Nedbank’s #TakeMoneySeriously campaign caught my eye and I applauded the team who brought the campaign to life on screen. It was referred to as a “fully integrated 360-degree, through-the-line campaign” and has run across various media platforms like television, outdoor advertising, and digital media. 

This campaign aims to educate people about the consequences of their choices with money, either good or bad. It offers alternative ways of spending, and ultimately encourages people to #TakeMoneySeriously. Why are they doing this?  South Africans are notoriously overextended when it comes to money, with one of the lowest savings rates and highest debt-to-income ratios in the world. Nedbank, a bank that has always taken money seriously, wanted to create social awareness around excessive consumerism and irresponsible money behavior. 

The result was the creation of fictitious product commercials to counteract advertising. Through the campaign, the very same advertising messages that typically encourage irresponsible money behavior are used to stimulate critical thinking and challenge underlying presuppositions that surround money and banking. The campaign strikes a chord with South Africans by reminding them it’s imperative to #TakeMoneySeriously by joining the bank that already does so.

Having reviewed the ads, I came to appreciate the way Nedbank and Joe Public reached out to the public with such a compelling message. The ads were wonderfully done, with a brilliant catchline: “Do you want a bank that takes your money, or do you want one that takes your money seriously?” 

Captures from the video ads

Although there are a host of other activations – from print to billboards – these ads take the cake in quality, but what happened to the rest? Recently, I found myself bombarded with a very poor digital ad (Google Remarketing) focusing on retirement savings, but it carries the #TakeMoneySeriously campaign tag. It’s such a visual disconnect that I’m not taking Nedbank seriously. I’m at the age where I should be considering boosting my retirement savings, but the reality is that I don’t want to imagine myself like the people in the picture below. This ad has given me zero incentive to take action or even think about anything. Just the spoon that’s about to graze my tongue.

What’s wrong with it?

  1. For anyone who has seen the #TakeMoneySeriously campaign ads, this is just so poor!
  2. Images should never simply fill up an ad’s space or just because you think you’re supposed to have them. In marketing, visuals are essential, and seeing information helps retain it better than hearing it. Why is this the case? As well as being visually pleasing, images need to convey information and serve a purpose.The image of retired people is BGrade stock, and it’s obvious that no thought was given to it. The woman looks like she is being force-fed some awful tasting and is embarrassed by the camera capturing her falseness. Or maybe the wooden spoon is a tad too rough on the tongue? Is this going to be me in a few years living the good life once I’ve boosted my savings??? Please, no! I want to be on a holiday with my grandchildren staying in a resort, thanks – or at least that is something to dream about. Or perhaps they should follow through with the bold messaging from the #TakeMoneySeriously and use an image depicting the place you dont’t want to be if you don’t save enough money for retirement.
  3. Given the timeframe digital ads have to capture and resonate – you need to be razor sharp and crystal clear with your words. What does boosting retirement savings have to do with an elderly couple doing a relatively normal chore like cooking? What motivation is there or how is this inspiring? Is this all I will get if I boost my savings??
  4. And why leave any room for error – “A bank that takes your money seriously” can quickly be interpreted by our peripheral vision as (this can happen when you’re not really reading but glancing over),  “A bank that takes your money.” This would have been better: “Do you want a bank that takes your money, or do you want one that takes your money seriously?” Why? Because the brain selects information. The brain translates the information it receives from the eye into something that we can understand. In fact, the brain receives just three ‘images’ every second, which are sorted and combined with earlier information to create the reality that you experience. Possibly, my brain perceived the picture as “taking food”, and then when the text came up, I thought of “a bank that takes your money”. It’s a small observation that may have a great deal of impact on people without them knowing it.

It’s surprising that such an oversight exists within their ad creatives. These little ads are so important because they have so much reach – the Google Display Network reaches 90% of Internet users.  I would have created this little banner ad a lot differently, taking into consideration con-current campaigns and media that are recognisable and effective, as well as being relevant to the target market.

Our Nedbank digital display ad design

In Closing

(Along with smart targeting) great, and thoughtful design can cure display ad blindness. Make sure you follow these design principles to create the best ads possible:

  • Ideally, the value proposition and CTA (call to action) should be the focus of your display ad.
  • Ensure your wording is razor sharp and doesn’t leave too much to the peripheral vision to interpret.
  • Make sure your color palette is relevant to your marketing goals and branding.
  • When it comes to typography, construct a hierarchy to make sure the most important information stands out.
  • Keep the overall design of your display ads simple.
  • To get viewers’ attention, choose unique, meaningful images.

Go ahead and look at your existing display ads. Do they adhere to these design principles? Do you need a redesign to get a better CTR? Speak to me, I can help!