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When you see an ad touting “Free pens for all” or “Free lollipops,” the last thing that probably comes to mind is a bank. But TD Bank’s recent marketing campaign steps outside the boundaries of the rather mundane, and sometimes impersonal, advertising that many financial institutions utilize, and focuses on combining humor, spunk, and casual conversation into what they are referring to as Bank Human™. The premise of the campaign is to focus on the everyday annoyances that banking customers face, and illustrate light-hearted ways TD Bank’s products and services can help reduce some of those pain points. The slogan for TD’s Bank Human™ campaign is, “If something matters to humans, it matters to us.”

TD Bank Human™ was first introduced in 2013, when the financial institution shifted from celebrity-focused marketing, featuring Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa, to a more humanized approach promoting its services.TD’s goal–to “bank human, again”–emphasizes that it’s the experience of the customer that sets TD Bank apart from its competitors. TD Bank introduced Bank Human™ through a series of six 30-second TV spots that showed banking frustrations of various customers, including a man having difficulties writing with a pen chained too tightly to a desk, and the challenges of a bank closing at 5 p.m. when a small business owner is trying to make an after-work deposit. All of the spots feature an emotionless, monotone customer service rep at a competing bank and then shift to reveal the humanized experience offered by TD Bank.

To carry out the Bank Human™ approach, TD institutes the following courtesies at each of their branches:

  • Free pens that aren’t chained to desks
  • Free lollipops
  • Free coin counting in branches
  • Rope-less lines in branch queues
  • Instantly issued debit cards
  • Dogs are welcome
  • Employees will walk customers from the branch to their car with an umbrella when it is raining

The two elements that the Bank Human™ campaign primarily focuses on are tone and photography. The combination of copy and imagery portrays real, human relationships. Rather than heavily advertising TD Bank’s products and services, the campaign uses a light-hearted, entertaining approach to promote itself. Disruptive headlines such as “Aren’t banks better when they’re open?” and “Attached to your phone? So are we.” are meant to depict a real, casual conversation, but also stand out to the respective audience. The photography used in the Bank Human™ campaign is much different than imagery used by other financial institutions. The look and feel of the photography is meant to be “in the moment,” as if the images are actual candid photo of customers. The presence of real, unexpected pictures strengthens the relationship between TD Bank to its customers on a human level.

A majority of TD’s Bank Human™ marketing campaign is evident through traditional media–television, newspaper ads, magazine ads, in-store collateral, as well as digital. Other channels that TD’s Bank Human™ marketing campaign can be seen through is its social media. In order to create a “humanized” element on social media outlets, TD Bank has faster response times (1 hour and 15 minutes, compared to the 5 hours and 24 minutes it takes its competitor, Wells Fargo, to respond), local community involvement, and fiscal fitness through social posts. TD Bank’s Chief Marketing Officer Vinoo Vijay said, “We took our associates who do Twitter for us . . . we photographed them, we videotaped them, and we presented them on our Twitter page, as well as on YouTube, so our consumers aren’t just talking to a faceless identity. It’s a person just like them that they can recognize and see.”

In my experience, the Bank Human™ brand will definitely catch the eye of a consumer, with its disruptive, quirky headlines and out-of-the-box images. Every time I see a new TD Bank Human™ ad, I find the marketing side of myself thinking how clever the ads are (see some of my favorites below). But on the contrary, in this day and age, Millennials, including me, are more concerned with convenience then what a bank offers in its branches. Growing up with technology being a dominant force in our everyday lives, being able to be social with a bank teller at the bank isn’t high on our priority list. While the current Bank Human™ brand revolves more around branch visits, I am hoping that in the future, the brand further evolves to include “humanized” elements of TD Bank’s non-branch services.

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Amanda Wagoner
Account Executive