While at the first glance banks may seem like formal and boring financial institutions, the bank advertising is where you surprisingly find an explosion of creativity. There is a fierce competition of wit, fun, puns, tears and usefulness. And it’s hard not to love it.
We’ve collected the most interesting bank ads that you can learn from. One of the most important takeaways from the whole bank commercial landscape analysis is that the storytelling matters. Whether it’s a 30-second video or a 3-minute feature song, banks rely heavily on top-notch storytelling to make their ads stand out and stun. And it’s a delightful process to observe. As a result, we can see many extremely creative entries that can easily inspire all the marketing people out there.
Of course, it’s important to know your budget limits. While some banks being multi-billion corporations can afford to have a superstar talking with their new card in hand, many commercials show that it is not the celebrity power that sells, it’s the story. To paraphrase it, we’ve seen some star-studded ads that don’t quite work because they’re not relatable enough. On the other hand, we’ve also discovered some low-budget gems that hold your attention from start to finish. That’s why when thinking about bank advertising it is important to think of telling a good story first.
Without further ado, let’s enter the world of big and small finances through these expertly crafted bank ads.
1. JPMorgan Chase & Co. – With Freedom Unlimited, You’re Always Earning
Kevin Hart in a bank ad? Yes. At least the way that the US JPMorgan Chase & Co. is doing it. In the video, Hart is playing a regular guy shopping, getting a haircut, fuelling the car, choosing donuts, well, doing all the things we mortals usually do. And it’s relatable enough to feel sympathy both for the actor and for the bank using him as a spokesperson in this charmingly funny ad that just works. No talent is wasted and it’s great to watch.
2. Wells Fargo – Lulu and Lobo
Casting animals in ads is almost always a winner move. “Why not starring two cute dogs in a commercial for our Home Mortgage program?” thought at Wells Fargo and did just that. We can confidently say that it was a great idea as the video is amazing. Maybe even funnier than the new Doolittle movie. Because the animals also talk here. The male dog Lobo had a dream of moving to a new home and he recounts it to his dog-lover (?) Lulu. As absurd as it may seem, the whole thing is, in fact, heartwarming and touching on a light, cute smiley level. And don’t forget, that is a home mortgage ad.
3. Bank of America – The Power to Be Me
It is very powerful when a mere commercial becomes a statement. In the case of this Bank of America ad, it’s all about inclusivity. The video shows different people starting their day to come to their workplace (which is Bank of America). All of it is accompanied by the amazing track from 2020 Grammy-nominated Austin band Black Pumas called “Colors”. Every element combined creates a beautiful bank commercial that showcases the values of the company and does it in style.
4. Citi: The Moment – It’s About Time
It takes a quick look at the like/dislike YouTube counter to understand that the video you’re going to watch may be controversial. With almost 5 million views and 2k of dislikes against 613 likes, Citi creates a divisive piece of content, the one that raises an important issue and resonates. The problem in question is the gender pay and leadership gap. The format is quite unusual: the children hear the gap stats and react to it.
One of the most touching moments of the video is when the photographer that does the talking bursts out in tears when a girl tells her that “there’s more to us than just looking pretty.” While it sure acquired many admirers and unfortunately haters, it is a bald move from such a big corporation as Citi to proudly take a stance on this issue and fiercely defend it.
5. U.S. Bank – Hard work works: Say it, do it
Cinema approach is always something that helps to create the most effective ads. U.S. Bank opts for it in its “Hard work works: Say it, do it” video that tells a story of a girl that goes from dreaming of becoming a ballerina to opening her own juice store with a help of the bank. Her life flashes before our eyes in 30 seconds and it’s hard not to be moved by the energy and sentimentality of the ad. Great piece of cinematic bank advertising it is, U.S. Bank.
6. TIAA – Birdwatcher
Often it pays off being a little less serious. Probably the most hilarious ad from our list, this TIAA entry tells a story of a birdwatcher that is about to shoot a picture of a woodpecker he’s been searching for a long time. However, in a comic turn of events, it doesn’t run as smoothly as planned. The whole bank ad is about the Guaranteed Monthly Income for Life. Birdwatching and banking? We’re loving the approach!
7. American Express small business ad
Not many brands can afford to utilize the star power of the Broadway household name Lin-Manuel Miranda of Hamilton musical. American Express is one of those companies that can. And they do it very effectively showing Miranda as a neighborhood local, a “regular”, an extra down-to-earth kind of a guy. And it’s adorable to watch. Lin-Manuel even sings in the process, however, just to make a teaching point. Anyway, it’s refreshing to see a bank ad that promotes small things and support micro level using celebrity presence rather than going over the top.
8. Fifth Third Bank – Nachos
In a Super Bowl-level of advertising ingenuity, the Fifth Third Bank uses nachos to make a point. It feels half like The Big Short financial explainers and half like a viral celebrity ad. However, it’s about real banking and the actor is not a famous person there so the whole thing looks more relatable and fun. Needless to say, the nachos look delicious and give you a strong urge to shop for a pack or two immediately after finishing with the video.
9. Citizens Bank – Feel It (You Got It)
Is it often that the music and the banking worlds intersect? Not to our memory. Citizens Bank did something unique with their Made Ready campaign, they partnered with legendary hip-hop collective The Roots and Questlove to produce a whole new song. That’s is really some mindblowing level of banking marketing where creativity is materialized in a song thus the whole campaign becomes not only a marketing phenomenon but a cultural one too. The song is really good by the way.