First Direct Skunk: A whiff of a 1980s lager campaign?

first directOh to be young…or not. Funnily enough, it’s not what it used to be as the youth of today are being battered by a broken housing market, the spiralling price of fuel, wage squeezes, being too poor to go on dates and shrinking opportunities for the whole generation (aren’t we all?).

Anyway, apparently, help is at hand from HSBC-owned First Direct, which is launching a new marketing campaign designed to offer a ray of light in the dark times by promoting the bank’s range of products and services, including a new partnership with Shelter which offers renters free help and advice to tackle housing problems.

Created by Wunderman Thompson UK, the campaign features a new brand mascot, Skunk, designed to call out the “stinkiest” situations in life, with activations across Instagram, TikTok and YouTube. PHD UK and Kepler handled the media, while Skunk was brought to life by Blinkink.

With a mix of traditional and non-traditional, out of home formats have been planned and bought with audience data at the heart and served programmatically, with “dynamic” creative messaging running throughout.

The media is also maximised with a big screen presence, with the video-on-demand ads across Channel 4, Sky and Netflix, including prime-time spots during Love Island. Xbox players will also be targeted through an interactive landing page experience, challenging them to complete a First Direct branded mini game for Xbox vouchers.

The main spot is set in a café with our skunk highlighting all the financial issues that the youth of Britain are facing and how First Direct can offer them “a whiff of hope” with its products. “Humorous” shorter films feature the skunk sniffing out other financial issues and show how First Direct supports customers through savings accounts and spending insights.

First Direct head of brand and marketing Chris Wood said: “This new campaign is here to demonstrate how we can help a generation of younger customers who are feeling more concerned than ever about their financial situation. Skunk brings our offering to life perfectly, using relatable situations and clever quips to show how First Direct’s products and services can give people the chance to live a better life through the financial decisions they make.”

Wunderman Thompson UK executive creative director Tom Drew added: “The nation’s skint. And it stinks. It’s brilliant that a brand is brave enough to say it how it is in black and white.”

So, what is the consensus around the Decision Marketing office?

Well, first up, we confess we are hardly in the target market – our 20s and 30s are long gone and with them our youthful good looks – but we still have our memory. Good job, too, as “Skunk” certainly does have a whiff about it; a whiff of 1980s Hoffmeister George the Bear, with his crafty cockney style cheeky-chappy manner.

Still, who knows, it may well appeal to the youth of today, just like “George” did to the youth back in the day. Whether First Direct will be able to solve the financial plight of today’s youngsters, however, is another matter.

Decision Marketing Adometer: A “follow the bear if you don’t believe us” 7 out of 10

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