HSBC surprises clients with global knowledge

The bank aims to show how an international network can have benefits here at home for Canadians.


HSBC will temporarily stand for “Hidden Surprise Bank Camera” as it rolls out its “Let’s Chat 1 on 26” campaign this week.

The bank concealed cameras in what were billed as one-on-one advisor meetings. They then surprised clients with real-time video greetings from HSBC investment advisors from all over the globe, emphasized by prominent international time zone clocks.

“Let’s Chat 1 on 26” highlights the institution’s global presence and ability to tap into local growth opportunities, through its network in Mexico, Argentina, U.K. and U.S., to highlight a few of the “26” locations where the bank operates.

Most Canadians are aware that HSBC is an international financial institution, Cindy Wong, retail banking and wealth management tells strategy. The thought behind the campaign was how to make that information “relevant for Canadians” by showing the benefits that global reach has for them.  Wong says the bank is uniquely positioned, since HSBC advisors share information across a global network, so “when you meet with one advisor you are really benefiting from local knowledge in many more places.”

Part of the marketing strategy behind “Let’s Chat 1 on 26” was also to personalize investing to make it more “human” and “relatable” and to show investors they can thrive financially, and in doing this in a charming way, says Wong. The bank is no stranger to this kind of offering. A September 2018 video spot, created by agency J. Walter Thompson Canada, tapped professional opera singers to sing about its “no-fee minimum balance accounts” to surprised denizens of a downtown Toronto park.

The “Let’s Chat 1 on 26” target audience is broad – investors already seeking global investment opportunities – but there’s also a message that global investing is for everyone. The video of the activation brings home the point by highlighting a newbie investor who mistakes a TFSA for the TSA, the US Transportation Security Administration.

“For many people, tucking money away in their current bank seems like the safest way to protect and grow their savings,” Wong says. She says that HSBC wanted to challenge this mentality by letting clients know they could be missing out by not tapping into the bank’s “local knowledge.”

According to its Q4 2018 financial report, HSBC had market share growth year-over-year for its retail banking, deposits and mortgage products.

Wunderman Thompson and Touché worked on the campaign, which consists of digital, social and online video. It will be running until mid-April.