HSBC parrots its rivals with new campaign

Who: HSBC Bank Canada, with Juliet for strategy and creative; Touché! for media.

What: “Tired of Parroting,” a campaign promoting HSBC’s chequing accounts laddering up to the brand’s “Do More With Your Money” positioning. It’s a project-based assignment for Juliet.

When & Where: The campaign is in market now, running across digital/social and radio.

Why: The goal is to attract new customers by showcasing what HSBC’s head of marketing, wealth and personal banking Michelle Ching calls one of the best chequing accounts in the country. That’s because of its so-called “minimum balance benefit,” which enables customers to put their minimum balance wherever they want, from savings to RRSPs to GICs and more.

As a challenger brand in a market dominated by the Big Five banks, HSBC knew they had to communicate the message in a unique way. “In a world where consumers are inundated with many different messages about personal finance and banking, understanding the best option can be overwhelming and confusing,” said Ching. “Our strategy was to present a real problem for Canadians and then showcase the solution in an unexpected and witty way.”

How: Just about every bank offers some kind of enticement to attract new customers, from the OG toaster, to new tech, or cash incentives. They’re all essentially parroting the same offer, so what better way for Juliet to convey that message than by using actual parrots sitting behind a desk and offering a “welcome bonus” for every new chequing account.

The spot details how HSBC is offering new customers a “one-of-a-kind” welcome that includes up to $500 and the freedom to put their minimum balance anywhere they want. “The approach overall started with how do we break through in a sea of same?” said Ching. “From there, we developed the idea of parrots, and a more humorous approach overall.”

Ching said that while the minimum balance benefit is a compelling product that sets HSBC apart and has the potential to disrupt the marketplace, it’s also hard to quickly understand. “The parrot analogy is relatable and shines a light on the sea of sameness out there,” she said.

And we quote: “HSBC has always prided itself on having one-of-a-kind services. The ‘Tired of Parroting’ campaign aims to make people think twice about settling for ordinary. Our goal is to provide an extraordinary banking experience that truly fulfills Canadians’ needs.” — Michelle Ching, head of marketing, wealth and personal banking, HSBC Bank Canada

Chris Powell