Thursday 28 November 2013

You might think it doesn’t matter.
I think it does.

There’s a lot of matter in the universe at the moment. Not the dark matter that’s apparently all around us bulking up the universe - but nobody can see it.

But matter. Or more specifically, things that matter.

I first noticed it when I saw the newest strapline from Legal & General:

It’s usually shortened to ‘Everyday Matters’. Clever wordplay huh? But it’s one of those completely pointless and meaningless propositions that not only doesn’t say anything about financial services, it doesn’t say anything about anything. 

So I saw it and forgot about it. Until I saw this strapline soon after: 

Now that’s pretty careless. It would take literally moments for the team at Lloyds Bank’s ad agency to see what other straplines were out there, and then think of one that wasn’t almost exactly the same as somebody else’s.

Worse still, it’s not even remotely true. Lloyds Bank are saying they will be there for the moments in your life that matter.

What, like when your children are born? When that girl you fancy agrees to go on a date with you? When you get the all-clear after cancer treatment? When you get down to your target weight after months of dieting and exercise? When you get that job after being out of work for ages?

No, I didn’t think so. And you know what, we wouldn’t want you there.

Never mind. So I forgot about these similar straplines until another one popped up. Now this really is becoming slightly unsettling: 

The first thing to be said is that it’s almost a direct copy of the Lloyds Bank strapline. So the Aviva ad agency team deserve an even bigger bollocking for being careless and/or lazy.

The things started to get very, very weird. Soon after, in the space of half an hour one Friday evening a couple of weeks ago, I spotted two more straplines.

On TV, I saw a Green Flag ad in the rolling news style. Quite a nice commercial until you get to the strapline:

In this case, the promise does actually have some relevance. Because when you’re stuck on the side of the A938 near Aviemore in the middle of Scotland and it’s cold, dark and pouring down with rain, you want to know that your recovery service will get to you. No matter what.

But the line is only half good. Sadly, it has no warmth, personality or connection to the reader. It might be better as:

Green Flag
We’ll get there, no matter what


Green Flag
We’ll get to you no matter what

Then moments later I nipped to our local Morrisons and saw an in-store poster:

That’s when I came over all Twilight Zone and felt like I was trapped in a weird copywriter’s Groundhog Day.

Why are all these straplines nearly the same? Has anyone else noticed? What happened to all the other words? Have I got to use ‘matters’ in every single strapline or piece of copy now? What does it all mean?

Thinking about the companies in question, I started to ask myself more questions.

Why are they so concerned with things that matter? Why do they presume to know what matters to us and imagine that they can give it to us? Why are they all trying to be so soft and fluffy, caring and sharing?

I think for the three financial services companies, the answer is simple.

They know deep down that we don’t like them any more. In fact, not only do we not like them, we actively dislike them and wouldn’t trust them as far as we could throw them.

Who can blame us?

What with RBS, HBOS, Fred Goodwin, the Libor scandal, the Barclays rate-fixing scandal, PPI and now the Co-operative Bank going up in smoke (literally) there’s not a great deal to like or trust.

They seem to think that with a comfy old strapline and a few soft focus images of groovy families, we’ll all be brought back into the fold.

Wouldn’t it be better if these various financial services companies just concentrated on offering a range of good products, providing friendly personal service, being accessible, and generally not trying to make as much money out of us as possible?

Now to most people, that’s what matters.

So, do you think this rash of cloned straplines is a reflection of the current corporate mindset in big business?

A sign that big ad agencies really have lost the plot?

Or just a massive coincidence?

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jamie,
    great article, and the coincidence is spooky...but it can be explained. So many me-too brands are realising that we absolutely don't care about them. They simply don't matter to us. So it's just their way of countering our indifference. "We matter to you because we care about what matters to you". It doesn't work for me! It just shows me how devious and cynical they are...