Brand: Bank of America
Link: Click Here
Target: Time-crunched professionals who hate lines
This spot (actually called “Thursday – 3:30pm”) shows a man in his car listening to his radio as the ballgame goes into the seventh inning stretch. He enters a Bank of America branch location and is greeted by the branch manager who asks how she can help him. A bit surprised, he tells her he has a question and a deposit. She says she can help him as he glances to the line in front of the tellers, slightly mistrusting. A moment later we see him back in his car, listening to the ballgame again, not having missed any of the action. The voiceover promises that BofA managers are there for customers.
The split rating above may be confusing, but bear with me. Taken alone, this is actually a pretty good spot. The problem/solution format is easy to follow. The man wants to listen to the game but has to do banking which usually takes time. The ad presents consumers with something we don’t like (waiting in the bank) and offers a solution (personal assistance) that is appealing. It doesn’t argue with our preconceptions, but makes a promise to do more.
The first promise that the Bank of America is making here – and the one they intend to make, I think – is that you will not encounter what I call the “Blockbuster syndrome” at BofA. Blockbuster syndrome is the feeling you get when you are waiting in a growing line, there is one store clerk checking out videos, three empty checkout terminals and three other workers including a store manager working on other things in plain sight. Somehow, even if your wait is only five minutes, having to stand there while three Blockbuster employees are not helping you makes it feel much much longer.
So BofA is making a meaningful promise here to bring available resources to bear when customers are waiting. It seems like supermarkets figured this out a long time ago. It’s hard to imagine a good supermarket where long lines didn’t trigger extra cashiers.
On its own merits I give this spot three stars. It doesn’t get a higher rating because nothing being promised by Bank of America in this spot is ownable. Any bank can instruct the managers to help customers when there is a line. And it is not clear to me whether BofA really has more of a lock on customer service than service-oriented boutique banks like Commerce Bank. So although there is a clear, relevant message here I still cannot give the spot the highest grade.
Here’s the problem with this execution, and the reason that I split the rating. Bank of America is making a second promise in this advertising and this one is a lot harder to believe. The promise is “you won’t wait in lines.” It’s not the stated promise, of course. The voiceover is pretty clear about what this baseball-loving consumer’s particular experience is. The branch manager is pitching in to help speed things up and this guy was the lucky one to walk in as she was looking for someone to help. But the promise we’re left with on a deeper level is that we will get personalized help from someone who knows what they’re doing as soon as we walk in to Bank of America. That’s a big promise. I am not a BofA customer, so I will have to rely on my readers to tell me if the Bank of America is really keeping this promise. But I can give you a quick acid test. Do you get a real, live person when you call BofA or an automated menu? Because for me, that automated menu kills the implicit promise that this spot makes. I’ve written about this before (click here) and this is a perfect example of the link between branding and customer service. Bank of America should be aware that they are making a big promise to consumers about their service levels with this ad, and that if they fail to deliver on this promise, the ad will cost them consumers instead of bringing more in.
Branding Bottom Line -
A reasonably good ad could be bad for the Bank of America unless promises are kept.