HSBC turns billboards into branches

The bank continues to emphasize the personalized advice it offers, part of ongoing efforts to compete with Canadian financial institutions.


HSBC is playing with advertising conventions again as it branches out with out-of-home banks to get up close and personal with Canadians.

In its latest campaign, “Adpointment,” HSBC turned billboards and bus shelters into makeshift branches by staffing them with the bank’s real employees.

Cindy Wong, regional head of retail bank and wealth management marketing at HSBC, says that as a “challenger brand” in the Canadian retail banking category, it has to do things differently to stand out. When it comes to everyday banking, there’s a perception that an international bank like HSBC isn’t as relevant.

“We want to show that we are very different, that we’re very personal,” Wong says. Personalization is highlighted in “Adpointment,” targeting millennials looking to start a career in Canada. For those who are moving abroad, the campaign touts specific offerings, such as waiving e-transfer fees.

The campaign is one component of a larger effort the bank has dubbed “Helping Canadians Thrive,” which Wong says is meant to help HSBC compete with Canadian banks through what she calls, “witty intelligence.”

Earlier this year, the “Let’s Chat 1 on 26” campaign surprised customers by connecting them via video to its investment advisers all over the globe. It positioned the bank’s global network as an asset that could provide personalized advice to everyday Canadians, instead of being disconnected from them.

The bank has typically been known for targeting high net worth individuals and international travelers in airports, but even recent efforts at Toronto’s Pearson Airport have been done in a way that is meant to stand out a bit more.

According to Wong, the brand is using a lot of social, and is also amplifying its personalization message internally using its own employees, who are sharing how their global perspectives and background influence how they work.

Wunderman Thompson and Touché handled the creative. The campaign runs until Sept. 8. The marketing spend is relatively the same for both “Adpointment” and “Let’s Chat 1 on 26,”  as it is more about out-smarting the competition, rather than outspending, Wong says.