Richer than you think?

Scotiabank slowly backs away from its famous slogan


Richer than you think?

Recently, in a movie theatre in downtown Toronto, the audience was suffering through the pre-movie ads when a familiar message from Scotiabank flashed on the screen: “You’re richer than you think.” That’s when one heckler loudly offered, “Not anymore!” and the theatre erupted in laughter. It turns out that was one of the tamer responses to the ad, which is playing to mocking audiences in Cineplex theatres across the country. In Vancouver, where condo prices are crashing, the ad has been met by obscenities and even the hurling of soft drinks.

It’s safe to say that wasn’t the reaction marketers were looking for when they cooked up the campaign. But in this age of economic turmoil, that’s what they’re getting. Even the Royal Canadian Air Farce has poked fun at the slogan by turning it on its head so it reads, “We’re richer than you think.” The scoffing response to the award-winning ad offers up a cautionary tale for advertisers, especially banks. Advertising can be tricky at the best of times, but selling financial advice during a nasty recession is like walking through a minefield.

The risks of sticking with the line haven’t been completely lost on Scotiabank. In December, the bank conducted a major public opinion study “to find out whether or not we should have some genuine concerns about this—whether it was becoming insulting to people,” says Rick White, the bank’s vice- president of marketing. The result? “Canadians still found it very, very suitable,” he says. Not only is it a well-recognized financial slogan, but it’s an upbeat one, notes White.

Daniel Robinson, a professor of media studies at the University of Western Ontario, agrees: “There’s still some appeal in making people feel there’s a potential silver lining in that now-foreboding folder of investment statements.” But Scotiabank seems to be backing away from its “richer than you think” tag all the same. In its latest batch of ads, the line appears buried underneath a much bigger block of text, featuring a brand new message that’s a little more recession-friendly: “Make the most of what you have.”


Richer than you think?

  1. Given all of their user fees and traps for nickel-and-diming (often 10 bucks at a time) the poor souls who trust their money with Scotiabank, "We're richer than you think," is what comes to mind each and every time I see that condescending ad campaign.

    That or, "You're richer than you think (and we want every penny)" seem to more accurately reflect Scotiabank's true intent.

  2. The real problem with the slogan is that it is argumentative.
    They are saying that they know better than you what your financial position/outlook is. Maybe they do but then maybe they do not. And how would they know? Are they spying on you/us?
    And on and on.
    I’m sure that the inten behind it is well intended, but to many i’m sure it is seen as an insult to the consumer’s intellegence.

  3. A comment I saw elsewhere: the slogan really means “You’re not as leveraged as you could be!”

  4. The only people who can give you financial advice are the Wall street and Bay street insiders, but they ain’t talkin’ to the likes of you or me. We are prey.

  5. I bank with Chase (USA). They should use the slogan “You’re smarter than we are.”

    I may be no financial genius, but I didn’t gamble away $2 billion (or was it $4b or $6b?) last quarter. It’s possibly a good sign that there are banks in the world that can at least consider their advertising rather than just worry about how they are going to get more government handouts to avoid bankruptcy.

    In Chicago, Harris Bank has been owned by the Bank of Montreal for decades — but only recently have they rebranded themselves as “BMO Harris” to emphasize the connection.

  6. LOL. we can make you poor. very simply put.

  7. Proof that banks are not your friend. A good call to borrow and spend more.

  8. Pingback: Bank Slogans And Taglines, Translated

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