TSB relaunches with pretty but schmaltzy brand film

TSB has released a beautiful, if deeply sentimental, brand film that takes viewers through the history of the recently returned UK bank….

TSB has released a beautiful, if deeply sentimental, brand film that takes viewers through the history of the recently returned UK bank….

The two-and-a-half minute long film, from agency Joint London, begins in 1810 when the Reverend Henry Duncan built a bank “with the sole purpose to help hardworking local people”. Set to an emotive soundtrack, it then earnestly attempts to convince the public that these honest roots remain at the bank, despite the “storm” the financial industry has recently experienced.

While the cynical amongst us might baulk at this obvious attempt by TSB to differentiate itself from other, ‘bad’ banks, plus at the fact that this somewhat patronising ‘local’ strategy from the industry is beginning to feel wearily familiar (see, for example, the Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks spots, featured on the CR blog in May), what can’t be denied is that the film is a very nice piece of animation.

It was directed by Marc Craste from Studio AKA and, unusually, combines 2D character animation within 3D CGI sets, plus features an unbroken opening shot that lasts 95 seconds. According to Craste, the use of 2D felt particularly appropriate as a means of emphasising the bank’s heritage. “I haven’t done 2D for about ten years,” he says. “We thought we’d do it, partly because it looks nice, and it kind of reflected in the technique what the bank was trying to say.”

The decision to combine 2D with CGI was made in order to avoid the “wobbliness” inherent in drawn animation. By mixing it with CGI this was avoided, though it did mean extra work for the team, which at one point stretched to 37 people. “There is a joy of seeing drawings come to life,” continues Craste, “and I think the combination of the two is enormously appealing. But essentially it means making the thing twice.”

Interestingly, Craste is the director behind the long-running series of Lloyds Bank ads that combine animated scenes with a trilling soundtrack (sung, incidentally, by Sarah Cracknell from Saint Etienne, fact fans). The decision for him to take on the advertising for TSB, which has just split from Lloyds, came as a result of his relationship with Joint London founder Damon Collins, who also previously worked on the Lloyds campaign while ECD at Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R.

The team was conscious that, for fairly obvious reasons, there shouldn’t be too many crossovers between the campaigns, and Craste even commissioned another animator, Steve Small, to design the characters, to ensure there is enough difference. Nonetheless, there remains something of a similarity of tone, both in the ad’s message and its atmosphere, but perhaps this is again due to a certain standardisation amongst recent advertising for banks.

The long version of the film is currently playing on the TSB website, and a 90 second cutdown of it will play in UK cinemas from this Friday.

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