I’ve talked frequently on this blog about banking and how financial services companies should be engaging with their specific customer groups rather than broadcasting to the masses (see Engaging with the Web 2.0 consumer or Just how special and different are financial services brands?).

We saw First Direct making a foray into the space when it started to externalise its social media commentary through First Direct Live. That was a confident move for a brand that knows it is good at service.

I also covered “A Crocodile for Billy” which was a children’s financial education initiative by LloydsTSB a while back. This was a positive first step but insignificant versus the scale of financial illiteracy in the UK.

Those in the industry (and most likely very few others) will also have seen the FSA‘s website MoneyMadeClear which was created from industry money by the FSA to give unbiased basic information about how money and financial products work and how to manage money, debt and personal finances.

Unfortunately the most striking aspect of MoneyMadeClear is that is it so unengaging and boring.

You can tell it has been developed by a branch of government. Given the opportunities to engage and bring to life complex information using rich media that the internet provides this was a massive missed opportunity.

Now (unfettered by my management!) the team at Capital One have launched an initiative to explain how credit cards work and should be used. Capital One over the past couple of years have been retrenching into products for those parts of the market that find it harder to get credit cards. Having listened and talked for many hours with these customers myself the lack of understanding of how finance and money works, even at the most basic level, is sometimes shocking. Perhaps the best (worst?) example of this was a respondent in a piece of research who was convinced that an interest rate of 40% was better than an interest rate of 20% “because it is higher”.

So given their focus on this part of the market financial education is an important responsibility for Capital One which is why they have launched an initiative called Credit Made Clearer. What I think is impressive is that they have made a genuine attempt to engage the audience. Simple explanations, engaging graphics, in short chunks of information; there is no product sell apart from the branding of Capital One. They have integrated a range of channels and approaches such as a YouTube channel.

No Brainers

Using your credit card

Of course they will expect an uplift in their brand perception and perhaps an uplift in applications so one could argue that this is a thinly veneered marketing campaign. However in my experience the intention and desire to get credit is rarely solely driven by a marketing offer and I would much rather have people taking cards when they understand the process more fully and think more carefully about it. So if this initiative from Capital One can help even a few people understand how credit and credit cards work more fully then it is making a valid contribution.

But all these activities lead to a bigger question for the financial services industry: how can we use this initiative, together with MoneyMadeClear and A Crocodile for Billy, to work together in coalition, using the considerable resources available of talent, time and money, perhaps linking with our new coalition government, to really make a massive, integrated, impact on financial education.

If you want to talk about this idea – then drop me a line or post a comment below – perhaps we could pull together and make a big difference.

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Financial Services brands: it’s not about being different but making a difference

New blog following a debate at the Financial Services Forum this morning.

Justin Basini

Thinking about marketing, branding and advertising.
Open for chatting, collaborating and consulting.

+44 (0)7786548395

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Trendhunter Pro – cutting edge trend hunting from around the globe

Last year I recommended the best selling book – Exploiting Chaos – by a friend of mine Jeremy Gutsche.

Jeremy’s website Trend Hunter continues to go from strength to strength. His model is fascinating. He has thousands of “trend hunters” posting interesting content about stuff happening all over the world. But what I really love is the way that they are exploiting and developing insight from this content.

The guys have launched a new service called TrendHunter Pro Trend Reports. These are great syntheses of what is hot from all the content posted on Trend Hunter. If you are in consumer insight or want to know about the real cutting edge trends happening now then they are worth looking at. Trend Hunter is great example of how powerful the democratisation of the creation of content is to delivering insight and value.

Click here to visit Trend Hunter.

[Disclosure: If you buy through the above link then I receive a commission on this sale. This does not affect my recommendation of what I think is a good product. If you prefer not to recognise my recommendation through a commission then you can use this link:]

Have fun exploiting what’s hot and what’s not!


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Battle of the Big Thinking….Escaping the Matrix

Well after what seems like a very tough few weeks with wet towels wrapped around my head I emerged nervous and sweating for The Battle of the Big Thinking conference organised by Campaign and sponsored by APG.
You can see the presentation plus a slidecast of the speech and the core ideas at:
Have a look and share your thoughts – there is a great debate to be had about marketing’s impact on our society and consumption economics. Let’s start…..

Powermat advert: a good use of cbsoutdoor moving poster #advertising (seen at Covent Garden tube)

Download now or watch on posterous

powermat2.3GP (1083 KB)

…..In a blog from a few months ago I bemoaned the poor use creatively of the projected poster formats that CBSOutdoor have put into the London tube network. I recorded this today and it is a nice use of the format. Lots of bright animation and well branded; uses a lot of black to overcome the relatively weak projection. Also sounds like a cool product. Justin Basini

5 Reasons why Twitter is the next evolution in the democratisation of communication

As many of my friends and family will attest I am a dedicated supporter and active user of Twitter. If I needed any more excuses to use my Blackberry, Twitter has given them to me. Lots has been written about the Twitter phenomenon but I wanted to share why I think Twitter has a really good chance to be a communication channel of long-standing and power.

1. Twitter is the first “feed” of interesting Internet information and opinion that can be accessed with no technical expertise at all. Since using Twitter I am now learning and consuming much more insight from the web. Blogs, articles, comments, stats have all opened up to me since using Twitter. Following a Guy Kawasaki (@guykawasaki) or a Mashable (@mashable) (even if you follow no one else) is a brilliant source of some of the best the web can offer. Add in a Jonty Fisher (@jontyfisher) or a Dan Schawbel (@danschawbel) and you are building a pretty powerful set of insight about marketing and branding (my field). I don’t think I am a Luddite but I could never really get RSS feeds and such like to really work – Twitter users aggregate, edit, filter and share better than any technology.

2. Twitter is entirely non-hierarchical and democratic. Everyone is open to everyone (you can limit updates to only those that you select but not many people do this). I’ve had tweets replied to from Lily Allen (@lilyroseallen) and even got a reply from the great Guy Kawasaki (@guykawasaki). To give you an example last week I was watching BBC Breakfast News watching a really good segment by Ray Snoddy (@raymondsnoddy) on media and advertising. I idly (and somewhat cheekily) tweeted that Ray looked like he was wearing a wig. Within a few hours the tweet had reached him and I had a good humoured reply from the great man. This form of communication is powerful – I don’t need to search for his email address – or write him a letter – I am in touch with him because of the network in which we particpate. This democratisation of communication can be a powerful way to open up those in power whatever field they are in.

3. Twitter can give you insight into the lives of others. For example I follow my local MP and now the Minister for Transport Sadiq Khan (@sadiqkhan). Sadiq is a great example of a politician that is using Twitter to inform the man on the street (i.e. me) about what he is doing and the things he thinks are important. Throughout all this furore over MPs expenses and trust I’ve been really heartened to see Sadiq tweeting about what he thinks and sharing what he is doing. He works really hard (and seemingly all the time at this event or another) and I’m glad that I know this – it builds my trust in him.

4. Twitter can give many moments of pleasure connecting with real world friends across the world. When I first heard of Twitter I thought that knowing that Jon was eating a sandwich in Montreal would be an irrelevance and a waste of time. But actually now that I use Twitter one of the most powerful emotional benefits is knowing that my friend Tobias (@implant_direct) is enjoying a party in Zurich or Tom Farrand (@tomfarrand) has just had a great time kite surfing on the South Coast. These are vicarious moments of joy through Twitter that I wouldn’t have otherwise.

5. Twitter is take it or leave it communication. Lastly one of best things about Twitter, different from almost all other modes of communication, is that Twitter can be picked up or put down at will. A tweet, a direct message or a reply doesn’t need to be responded to instantaneously but it can be. That’s one of the best things about the channel – its so flexible. If you don’t want to tweet for a few days no one is going to accuse you of ignoring their voicemail, email or letter.

Twitter adds a lot to my life and I think it is a powerful new form of communication that has a lot of potential. So if you are a confirmed member of the Twit-sphere good for you; and if you are thinking of taking the plunge go for it.

As always please feel free to comment, share, RT, agree or disagree. Also follow me on twitter!

All the best,


A (media) trip on the London Tube

Last week I took my camera down onto the tube in London and was looking for some interesting media. I saw some good, some bad.

Firstly these new moving ad displays that CBS Live have put onto key stations such as Oxford Circus. Here is a video that I shot of a reel of the ads that were playing: one for Macmillan Cancer Care, one for Transport for London Alerts and one for Adidas featuring Footlocker.

Firstly I must apologise for the quality of this video both in terms of how it looks and its boring content. Actually it isn’t so much my camera but rather the washed out image of the projector. Even with the only decent creative from Adidas the images look poor. The real shame is the quality of the creative. The TFL and Macmillan efforts are no more than static poster ads with a minimum of action (its even hard to spot anything going on in the TFL ad); even the Adidas ad lacks something without music (was this a TV ad repurposed? – must be).

I don’t know whether you noticed but of all the heads moving past the camera not one turned to look at the adverts, there was more interest in me filming the site! Know I now that the salesmen for these formats might say that it is all about dwell time and people being drawn to them but in the 5 minutes I stood on a business platform not one person seemed interested.

Now I know these formats are not common but surely there is more that can be done creatively in this space. If not then they seem to add no value and given the heat they create and the resources that they consume surely won’t survive very long. The escalator LCDs seem to be more successful (find video) but again the creative that I have seen is largely unoptimised and more like digital posters.

Now a good creative execution from Uniqlo. This is an arresting poster that looks like a Q magazine layout. I loved this poster and would imagine it is really appealing to their target audience. Its for their new range of T-shirts and this poster looks even better in reality that on this photo.

This advert is interesting because it breaks a few of the classic poster format conventions and yet still works. It is lowly branded. You struggle to find the brand name. There is a lot going on, yet it still stays engaging and interesting. It tells a story but it is complex. Overall I think this works especially where dwell time is more than transistory. Hence placement will be important. I photographed it in a corridor in Oxford Circus tube. I think it would work better on a platform (and indeed may well be on the platforms as well).

Feel free to comment.



Lots has been written about the selling out of around 20% of Innocent to Coca-Cola for £30m.

I found this on the internet which is prototype for their new line “Not so” innocent. Click on it to read the text – I love the “We sold out 20% of our company, and 100% of our values. We’re working on the rest!” OUCH! Their faux, down to earth copy has always grated on me so I enjoyed this label.

Given they have positioned themselves as “innocent” and “pure” then selling out to a major multi-national who makes highly calorific and artificial drinks is somewhat of an interesting move. Many of their consumers clearly feel let down. It is worth reading David Taylor’s Brandgym blog entry on the issue which makes this point well. They have destroyed a significant basis of trust in their brand and ethics of their company.

Whether you agree or disagree with their decision it is clearly a PR disaster which they have seemingly managed poorly. Despite the acres of comment they have not been actively defending their decision which is strange because they are good at managing positive PR – maybe in their hearts they know they have sold out. You can read their letter on the Innocent website.

Here are a couple of paragraphs:

“Basically, we’re dead excited about the investment. The funds raised allow us to do more of what innocent is here to do – get natural, healthy stuff out to as many people as possible. And the money raised is going into the business to fund our European expansion, so we can get innocent out to more places (none of the cash is being paid out to the shareholders; that desert island will just have to wait).

The three of us who set up the business will continue to run and manage innocent. We will be the same people making the same products in the same way. Everything that innocent stands for, remains in place – to only produce natural, healthy stuff; to push hard for better quality, more socially and environmentally conscious ingredients; to find more efficient and environmentally friendly ways of producing and packaging our drinks; to support charities in the countries where our fruit comes from; to have a point of view on the world, and to not take ourselves too seriously in the process. In fact, this deal will simply allow us to do more of these things.”

Apart from that ingratiating tone, the thing that I think the founders don’t get is that in many ways their decision to take Coca-cola money changes our perception of them fundamentally. They might be the “same people making the same products” but whereas we all thought before they were a values led company that had set out on a mission to be (almost) an “anti-Coke”, we now see a more accurate view of their motivations and how far their principles and values go. And unfortunately whilst we are left with a more accurate view of the “same people”, its not what they set out to convince us they were and that’s disappointing. We feel misled, and let down. Ultimately I want to know the truth about people and hold accurate perceptions so I feel better that I know that Innocent is not as innocent as they purport to be – it probably won’t stop me buying their drinks but will make it a less satisfying purchase and opens up the way for a company who really “walks the talk” to steal my purchase from Innocent.

Feel free to share, tweet, follow and comment.

Have fun.



This is a fabulous video which is worth kicking back and watching for 10 minutes or so (not when you should be working!).

Of course its not true. This is not how the process works – is it? Hopefully not in my team at least! Others may correct me!

Comments welcome as always!