HSBC: groundbreaker or cliche?

Everybody looks at things differently, and this global branding campaign - and its Canadian adaptation - from HSBC are no different.

Everybody looks at things differently, and this global branding campaign – and its Canadian adaptation – from HSBC are no different.

It plays on the idea that everyone perceives things in a unique way. A global print execution juxtaposes a baby and computer, alternating the headings ‘work’ and ‘play.’ One of three Canadian ads features hockey and curling images, and the headings ‘exciting’ and ‘boring.’

‘There’s also the ‘local’ part of the ‘world’s local bank,” says Erik Sande, VP marketing at HSBC Canada, referring to the financial co’s global tagline. ‘We wanted to show something that is distinctively Canadian.’

Sande also decided to do a Canadian radio spot, ‘Hockey Song,’ to push his RRSP products. It features the distinctive music used to pump up crowds at NHL games, and asks listeners whether they hear a rally cry, or just four simple notes. It then offers a reminder about RRSP season.

So far, it seems to be working: ‘From the feedback we’ve received, [the ads] are having the intended effect of building awareness in the marketplace and prompting people to consider us.’

Our panelists, Lori Zinger, group account director at Cossette’s Toronto office, and Tim Kavander, co-CD at Toronto’s Arnold Worldwide, share their perspectives on both the global campaign and its Canadian adaptation.


LZ: The use of multiple executions is great as it ensures

at least one of their ad scenarios will resonate with most consumers. It seems to have a clear message, ‘Everyone looks at things differently.’ While this is not a new insight, it is definitely an interesting and relevant consumer truth. But, it doesn’t provide any support to explain how HSBC sees things from different perspectives.

TK: HSBC wants you to know that they see you as an individual. Not exactly a strategic breakthrough when it comes to banks. Is the work wildly creative? Not so much. It does, however, make their point clearly.


LZ: Using Canadian executions to demonstrate that HSBC is a bank that offers unique global insights combined with local knowledge is a smart idea. The Canadian specific ads would have been more effective if they had been built upon imagery that highlighted an issue or perspective that truly makes Canada different from other countries. For instance, our Canadian pride is always debated. Are we proud or apathetic?

TK: Rather than showing me images of moose and maple syrup, I wish they’d tap into some underlying ‘Canadian’ insight or value as it applies to banking. Then they’d really have something.


LZ: The Canadian-specific executions felt clichéd. Aren’t Canadians more interesting than just as a winter sports nation? Don’t we have more to say about ourselves than hockey, hockey, hockey?

TK: They’ve certainly employed Canadian visuals: hockey versus curling. But the copy wanders off to discuss RRSPs, living for tomorrow versus today, and feels completely disconnected from the visuals.


LZ: The radio ad does a better job of balancing how HSBC acts global but thinks local, and tries to get a little deeper by talking about the sweet sound of hockey and how it can inspire a nation. But again, the use of hockey itself is just too overdone.

The creds:

Client – HSBC Bank Canada:

Erik Sande, VP marketing

Agency – JWT Canada:

Jim Wortley, CD; Paul Silbiger, copywriter; Mark Adams, designer; Philippa Sharpe, managing director; Shelley Waterhouse, group account director; Nicole Connor, account director

Media – Excelerator Media:

Laurie Ashton, associate media director