A recent Nationwide advertisement featuring actor Dominic West has sparked an investigation by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) following a complaint filed by rival bank Santander.
In the advert, West portrays the head of a fictional major bank who derides customers while discussing plans for branch closures. The complaint alleges that the advertisement is misleading and unfairly discredits Nationwide’s competitors.
Nationwide has acknowledged the complaint, while Santander has declined to comment on the matter.
The contentious advert, released by Nationwide in October last year, garnered attention from the ASA shortly after its launch, with the regulatory body receiving complaints regarding its content, as reported by Sky News.
West, renowned for his roles in acclaimed series such as The Wire and The Crown, is depicted presenting an exorbitant expenses bill for a corporate lunch, before discussing cost-cutting measures and branch closures. In a pivotal scene, when a colleague highlights that Nationwide is not closing branches, West retorts, “We’re not Nationwide, are we?”
The advert concludes with a voiceover emphasizing Nationwide’s commitment to maintaining its branches, in contrast to “the big banks” that have announced closures due to increased online banking usage.
Numerous major banks, including Lloyds, Barclays, NatWest, and Santander, have indeed announced branch closures in response to shifting consumer preferences towards online banking. Meanwhile, Nationwide has emphasized its “branch promise,” pledging to keep all existing branches operational until at least 2026, barring unforeseen circumstances.
An ASA spokesperson confirmed the receipt of the complaint, highlighting concerns over the advert’s alleged misinformation about other banks’ branch closures and its perceived denigration of competitors. The investigation is ongoing, with no decision reached as of yet.
Nationwide responded acknowledging the ASA complaint and awaiting its resolution. They reiterated their commitment to face-to-face banking, contrasting it with the closure trend observed among larger banks.
The outcome of the ASA investigation will shed light on the advert’s compliance with advertising standards and its portrayal of competition within the banking sector.