Grey London

Core disciplines: Advertising/Creative, Digital




We were tasked to reframe how the financial services category talks to its business audience. In a climate where banks were distrusted and struggling to prove they had changed.

To get to the answer, we started by talking to those people closest to the challenge. Working together with HSBC’s frontline staff over a series of “Ambition” workshops, we uncovered a fundamental truth for business owners: Business isn’t cold, hard or mechanical. Business isn’t just about the numbers. It’s a passion. An itch. A calling. Whatever it is, it’s never dull. It drives you on, takes you further. It’s never just about the moneyIt’s never just business. 

We saw an opportunity to create a campaign that empathised with businesses leaders, and demonstrated HSBC is a bank with whom they can expect understanding and trust. In doing so we could drive relevance and consideration.

The insight was true for a diverse range of businesses; for small-medium sized businesses the campaign appeals to the passion and sacrifice of entrepreneurs; whereas for large corporates we recognise the value of relationships and personal legacy of a CEO.

The success of the campaign was unlocked by how we launched it and the media channels we used, crucially this campaign was driven from the inside out.
Phase 1 was launched to HSBC employees. If the “It’s Never Just Business” campaign was to be a success all the HSBC employees needed to understand and live it.

A series of company wide roadshows and communications built momentum. Board members openly discussed and promoted it. The most critical internal audience, Relationship Managers, were armed with tools, insights and case studies to ensure they had quality, credible conversations with business customers/prospects.   

In Phase 2  we launched publically with a bold new campaign in airports, OOH and print. This was supported by an online content series, ‘The Foresight Agenda’, delivered in partnership with the Economist.

After the idea had landed, we added further interest, with a beautifully crafted commercial ‘Lift’ that launched in Spring 2015, which was augmented by a 360 degree immersive film experience.

The commercial ran across 131 countries via the key business channels of CNBC, CNN and BBC Worldwide, as well across BA and Cathay Pacific’s fleet of aircraft.  With English being the lingua franca of the business world, it needed little adaptation but we did localise it in key regional markets, such as the UAE.

In the UK the spirit of the film was taken to the grass roots by a PR, digital and social activation ‘The Elevator Pitch’ which featured business talks, guides and an ‘Apprentice’ style competition for Entrepreneurs. This was seeded across paid media and HSBC’s social channels, naturally LinkedIn was a cornerstone of the campaign.

Initial results from the first market launch (UK) have outperformed expectations. Online advertising has a CTR 36% above previous benchmarks. Activity is driving an uplift in leads, with a £9m increase profits being associated with campaign.

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