HSBC banks on the local touch

High-street institution outscores rivals as its latest campaign stresses importance of local experts

HSBC: consumers recognise message
HSBC: consumers recognise message

After nearly two years of negative coverage, the financial sector is still in turmoil.

Newspaper headlines have featured the majority of the high-street banks, and even those not attracting negative press interest have suffered blows to both their credibility and confidence among consumers.

However, some have managed their negative PR better than others. One good high-street example is HSBC, whose index score on BrandIndex has dropped just two points compared to 19 June 2008.

If HSBC's small drop is contrasted with those of its two main rivals  - Lloyds TSB, which fell eight points over the same period to -1, and Royal Bank of Scotland, which fell 18 points to -12 - it becomes clear that HSBC has weathered the economic storm better than most in the financial sector.

Boosted by its relatively stable performance, HSBC decided to launch a new advertising campaign. First aired on 2 June, it continues to build on HSBC's famous slogan "The world's local bank".

The latest ad, narrated by Michael Gambon, stars a Chinese fisherman, who uses a trained bird - the local expert - to catch fish and bring them to the fisherman's basket.

The man uses "local experts to help him catch more fish", just as HSBC uses "local investment experts to help your money achieve its potential".

When the ad first aired, the buzz, corporate and index scores for the brand were at -3, 0 and +3 respectively.

Following the launch of the campaign, buzz increased from -3 to a peak of +3 on 15 June, while the corporate score for the brand also improved, rising five points to a peak of +5 on 16 June.

As the improvement in HSBC's corporate scores shows, consumers have recognised the message in the brand's new ad.

However, given the depth of the financial crisis and the length of time it has dragged on for, it is hardly surprising the public views the financial sector with far more scepticism than previously.

It will be a long time before consumers are willing to believe in banks once more.

That said, HSBC's scores put it in a far healthier position than its rivals, and this may allow HSBC to move ahead of the pack once the recovery gets underway.

METHODOLOGY: YouGov interviews 2,000 people each weekday to form its BrandIndex, a daily measure of public perception of more than 1,100 consumer brands across 32 sectors. It is measured on a seven-point profile:
1. Buzz
2. General impression
3. Quality
4. Value
5. Satisfaction
6. Recommend
7. Corporate reputation.
In addition, we supply an index score.

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