Published On: Wed, Apr 3rd, 2024

Nationwide ads featuring Dominic West banned for being ‘misleading’ | Personal Finance | Finance

Nationwide ads featuring Dominic West banned for being ‘misleading’ | Personal Finance | Finance
Nationwide ads featuring Dominic West banned for being ‘misleading’ | Personal Finance | Finance

Advertisements for Nationwide featuring actor Dominic West have been banned due to misleading consumers. The misleading point was that unlike other banks, Nationwide would keep its branches open.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) probed into the TV, radio and press ads after receiving 282 complaints.

Santander bank was one of those who made a complaint as they believed Nationwide had indeed recently shortened opening hours or closed some branches altogether.

Dominic West is seen joking about a large expenses bill for a company lunch in the TV commercial before moving onto talk about closing the branch.

When an employee points out that Nationwide, seen from their office window, is not closing branches, West replies: “We’re not Nationwide, are we? “.

A voice-over at the end claims: “Unlike the big banks, we’re not closing our branches,” while the screen displays a list of banks that have publicly announced branch closures, including Lloyds, Bank of Scotland/Halifax, Natwest, Barclays, Santander and HSBC.

The radio ad relayed a similar message. During a chat between two colleagues one mentions: “Boss, news from Nationwide,” and “They’ve just confirmed they’re keeping branches open,” followed by a voice-over stating: “Unlike the big banks, we’re not closing our branches.”

The ad showed the words: “Going, Going, Nowhere” and “Unlike the big banks, we’re not closing our branches”. In tiny letters at the bottom, it said: “If we have a branch in your town or city, we’ll still be there until at least 2026.”

Nationwide told us they promised back in 2019 to stay in towns or cities without another Nationwide branch. They made this promise even stronger in 2023, saying they won’t shut any branches until at least 2026.

The bank shared with the ASA that they had shut down 20 branches in the past year and a half, including two in 2023. But they still have more branches than 10 other banks and have closed the fewest of their own.

They also showed an article from Which?, a magazine for shoppers, that said Nationwide is good for people who like to talk to someone in person.

But the ASA pointed out that the small print in the ads might be missed by people, and that the ‘Branch Promise’ only goes up until ‘at least 2026’.

The ASA also found out that Santander had closed fewer branches than Nationwide in the year before the ad came out. And when the ad was shown, Santander hadn’t said they would close more branches later on.

The ASA noted: “We acknowledged that over a 10-year period, in comparison to other financial institutions, Nationwide had closed the smallest percentage of any financial institution’s estate.”

“However, we noted that they had nevertheless closed 20% of their estate, which equated to 152 branches, and we considered that was a significant number that had been permanently closed.”

“We also understood that since Nationwide had launched their original Branch Promise, in the 18 months since July 2022 they had permanently closed 20 branches. Of those 20, 14 had been closed in the 12 months preceding the campaign, with two of them having been closed in 2023.”

The ASA concluded: “As above, we understood that Nationwide’s Branch Promise was only valid until 2026, at which time Nationwide could begin to close branches permanently.”

“We considered those factors relating to previous, recent branch closures and the effect on future branches in the long term were likely to be significant to consumers when making decisions about whether to choose Nationwide, in the context of the claims made in the ads that Nationwide were not closing their branches.”

“Because we considered that consumers would understand from the ads that Nationwide would not be closing branches in the long-term future and that they had not recently closed branches, we concluded that the ads were misleading.”

The watchdog ruled that the ads must not appear again in their current form, adding: “We told Nationwide Building Society not to mislead in relation to the closure of their branches.”

A Nationwide spokesperson shared: “We recognise the ASA’s decision and are delighted to have the opportunity to make even clearer our now extended branch promise to keep every branch open until the start of 2028.”

“The investment we have made to keep branches open means we now have more than any other brand and are the last one standing in more than 90 communities.”

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