Barclays - Telegraph listening advertorials: Case Study
Barclays UK RBB – Telegraph Listening Advertorials
Submission to Newsworks Planning Awards 2013
Had enough of banks? Read five years’ of newspapers!
People are disengaged, whether through virtual banking or turning to each other for advice.
Barclays aspires to be preferred, to put people first but it’s too late for words, we need to listen and
Our older customers are most despairing, still bearing a financial burden for their children.
To listen, we used THE key influencer of their opinion and banking’s keenest critic, newspapers.
A weekly feature in The Daily Telegraph allowed people to confront Barclays with real problems, a
bold idea but this transparency increased brand trust by 7%.
Background and objectives
The gap between customers and banks is growing. People are disenfranchised; they don’t trust
banks and the whole financial crisis has further convinced them to look to themselves.
So they are turning to each other for advice and to apps and websites to manage banking, taking
control and demanding easier access to services and an ability to personalise them. Paradoxically,
the more banks feed this demand, the less engaged with them consumers need to be.
A focus for this is this autumn with government measures allowing customers to switch easily
between banks (with all their direct debits and standing orders within a one‐week period) in order to
increase competition for current accounts.
For most people it’s a ‘from frying pan to fire’ scenario but all the banks understand that their brand
consideration has a direct impact who consumers will choose and hence their profitability so are
vying to shed the old and to claim they are truly all about ‘you’.
Maxus realised success would be borne from being genuine to this belief not just impressing on it.
We developed a corporate and marketing communication framework for Barclays built on three
simple principles; to Listen to your customers first; to Act on their issues; to finally earn the right to
Show how your products can help.
The objective of this activity was to ‘Listen’ by engaging in genuine consumer conversations. In so
doing to increase trust metrics for Barclays and ultimately increase brand consideration.
The Daily Telegraph newspaper enabled us to do this amongst our oldest and most profitable
customers, Connie and Clive. They are retired, post‐mortgage and torn between a duty to provide for
themselves as they get older but also to help their children become established.
Their strong opinions are self‐enforced through a social group largely of people like them and their
daily newspaper. Their chosen read is a trusted and extremely influential appointment to read for an
audience hugely engaged in events.
Whilst they may not be on social media in large numbers, they discuss what the newspapers say at
length with each other, in person and on email. Put simply, newspapers are the conversation this
generation are having.
Insight and strategy
Most banks provide applications and customisable solutions but ‘virtual banking’ is mainly day to day
management, like checking a balance. More fundamentally, customers still want a bank that knows
them and the individual life dilemmas they face, i.e. a human behind the tech, ‘real banking’.
This is true for no one more than Connie and Clive, who despair at the sheer lack of ‘common sense’
and the challenges their family face. They know they sound like grumpy old farts sometimes but they
have an amazing perspective and it’s simply infuriating when banks ‘don’t work’. They don’t want to
customise an account; the very act of personalising it is impersonal to them. They want to speak to a
Newspapers command an extremely significant relationship with these readers. The Daily Telegraph
is read by over 10% of our audience every day, for Connie and Clive it is a provides a bastion of
common sense in a world going to pot, a breath of fresh air among all the political and corporate
twaddle people get away with on TV.
Using IPA Touchpoints data, we identified Saturday just after lunch as the time when Connie and
Clive are most likely to be together, discussing and undertaking household admin and financial tasks.
Just prior to this is the time they spend time reading the newspaper, taking particular interest in the
Our strategy was to focus on the human element by running a regular piece of activity in the
Saturday Telegraph where trusted journalists and a panel of contributors that represented ‘people
like them’ could challenge Barclays with ‘real’ issues. In other words, to show respect by listening to
them and earn trust back through common sense responses.
The creative territory that BBH developed to best encapsulate Listen, Act, Show was real life
Dilemmas e.g. choosing between giving your money to your kids as the deposit for their mortgage or
keeping it so as not to burden them later in life.
Through this lens, we engaged the audience at a time they were willing to have their opinion shaped
in a series of 16 fortnightly advertorials that ran in bursts through 2013.
The topics covered in each advertorial were devised through research with a Daily Telegraph reader
panel to ensure they were genuine financial dilemmas that consumers like Connie and Clive faced.
The article itself comprised the set‐up of the financial dilemma, an interesting story relating to the
topic from a member of the reader panel, a comment from a finance expert at the Daily Telegraph
and a line from an appropriate senior person at Barclays. Themes of interest to our Connie and
Clives included helping family get on the housing ladder, helping save for (grand‐)children’s
university education and planning for retirement.
Each advertorial was published on a Saturday just in front of the News and Comments section of the
Daily Telegraph to mirror how consumers engage with their favoured newsbrand and take influence
from the opinions of ‘people like them’.
The Daily Telegraph partnership yielded amazing results showing how the power of newsbrands
could be used against the sheer weight of years of apathy and disengagement with banks and
From a survey we carried jointly with the Daily Telegraph we substantiated that we were fuelling
real conversations with 25% of those who read the features discussing the content with friends and
The same research also showed shifts in brand trust, a 7% increase in those saying that Barclays was
a trusted source for providing financial advice and a 2% increase in those saying that Barclays was
more trustworthy than other banks. We verified this through Barclays’ own brand metrics carried
out by Millward Brown seeing a 6% increase in brand trust scores as a result of the activity.
Moreover the overall goal of brand consideration was realised, increasing an amazing 7% amongst
our Connie and Clive audience when these advertorials began.
Sara Bennison, Marketing Communications Director for Barclays UK Retail Bank: “The Telegraph
partnership is part of Barclays public commitment to listen to our customers and show how we are
going to act on change, big and small, helping make their lives easier. The Telegraph audience covers
an important part of our customer base, experienced with a rich life perspective and strong common
sense, people who banks can both service better and learn from. Maxus helped us to harness the
influencing power of newspapers as a unique platform offering genuine transparency and the
honesty that we wanted. By being unafraid to deal with provocative points of views and sensitive
real life issues we create a more meaningful dialogue and stronger relationship. We’re privileged
that as a result of the activity so many more of this audience find they can trust Barclays "