Dunfermline Building Society ad shoot

By The Drum | Administrator

October 2, 2002 | 12 min read

As the Dun-fer-m-line says a resounding ‘howdy, partners’ to the nation’s television sets after a five-year absence, it looks a hell of a lot different. Not a Stetson in sight for a start.

The drawling Texan of old has been replaced by bikini-clad models, some typically Scottish males and some slick direction. But that is not all that has changed since the Dunfermline Building Society was last on television. In comes a new marketing director (relatively), a new ad agency (kind of), a new media shop (literally) and an altogether new campaign.

Brian Morton, sales and marketing director at the building society, explains: “It’s a number of years since we were last on television. But we started talking about this particular campaign over twelve months ago now when we developed the new strap line – “For a longer happier relationship”.

He continues: “We spoke to a number of different customers and non-customers through focus groups. We spent a lot of time trying to find out what people thought of their financial services provider. What came through quite clearly was that other organisations were increasingly not trusted. People do not have particularly strong relationships with their financial services provider. There is an increasing cynicism. Yet the feedback that we got on the Dunfermline, when prompted, was that we were friendly, Scottish, and that our customers are happy to have a relationship with us.

“So, obviously, we have a message to tell, but we were sure that we weren’t telling it to enough people.

“We launched the campaign internally first. The staff are aware of the ‘Longer happier relationship’ phrase, but if they don’t believe it then we are wasting our time. If we do not believe that we can provide customers with a longer, happier relationship then we will never deliver it. Everyone has a role to play in delivering this.”

However, none more so than the building society’s advertising agency, Family. Ironically, though, one of the building society’s longest and happiest relationships was put to the wire when Yellow M, the incumbent on the account, went into liquidation, following a failed MBO. However, Morton says that, since the relationship with the team at the newly formed breakaway, Family, was so strong there was never any doubt that the business would be retained by its old charge-hands: “It didn’t take me very long at all to make the decision to go with Family. In fact, it was a very, very quick decision. If there had been problems financially with them as individuals then that would have been a different matter, but there wasn’t. We had worked with them for a number of years as Yellow M. Over the last twelve to eighteen months we have been working a lot closer to them, developing the campaign. We like the creative work they do for us, we like the people and get on with the people and we have a very open relationship. We challenge each other going forward and if I don’t like something I’ll tell them that it’s crap.

“If I had any doubts about the creativity I would have gone somewhere else and, needless to say, when people read about Yellow M’s demise, I was inundated with phone calls, which we expected, but we were very happy to knock them back.”

One relationship that didn’t last, however, was that of the media buyer. Says Morton: “We made the decision to go out to the marketplace to have a look, knowing that we would be running a big campaign. We had been with MediaVision for some time, but to be fair to them we hadn’t used them a lot because we hadn’t been on TV and we weren’t doing a huge amount of press advertising, so they weren’t being pushed, but at the same time their contract was up and we wanted to see what else was there.”

So, The Media Shop was appointed and the campaign was starting to take shape. Family drafted in BAFTA-award-winning director Richard Dale, the man behind “Teachers”, and Micky MacPherson of ICE Commercials to shoot the series of adverts under the watchful eye of Morton: “The adverts are a light-hearted look at the little things that niggle when you’re in a relationship. The things that you don’t really mind but wish your partner wouldn’t keep doing.

“By keeping a light-hearted tone, we help customers and would-be customers to feel that dealing with us will be an enjoyable and friendly experience. It reflects how the society is always there with straightforward, good advice for our customers, just when they need it most.

“We could have spent the new campaign talking about how good our customer service is, how great our products are and how much we care about our customers. But, let’s face it, while true and very worthy, this would have been the same as virtually every other financial services advertiser. How is the customer supposed to tell the difference?

“Because of our size, we are obviously in direct competition with some very large financial organisations who have considerably greater spend available to them than we have. So we recognised quite quickly, and it wasn’t rocket science, that we had to punch above our weight in terms of how our adverts looked. So we didn’t want them to look like a traditional financial services advert.

“We asked the question, what does a relationship really mean to people in life? We wanted to do something that was different. We wanted to do something that struck a chord with everybody, but also to create a link to the Dunfermline and show that, if you are with us, you will have a longer, happier relationship.

“We wanted a little bit of humour, a slice of life and something that will help us punch above our weight. I think that what we have got does just that and I think that they are quite memorable. In fact, I think they are very memorable. Having said all that, it is the first time that we have been on telly for a number of years, and it is going to take more than one stint of TV advertising to bring the brand level up to where we would like it to be.”

The last time that the Texan was on TV was eleven or twelve years ago. At the time he did a good job for the building society, but this new campaign is a huge step away. There are a huge number of existing customers who could not be alienated but, at the same time, the purpose of the new campaign is to widen the appeal. Morton believes that the building society has to be seen as a modern and dynamic business to compete in the cluttered marketplace: “This is designed to keep existing clients happy yet make us more attractive and friendly to those who are not currently customers.

“It is important to stand out in the fields in which we operate. It is a big challenge to do so. In terms of the Scottish marketplace we are the biggest building society in Scotland, we know that our products are good and they can stand up against anyone in the market place and that is why we are investing so heavily in the brand.

“We are convinced that this marketing activity will bring us back to the front of mind, but it will be a bit of a journey. It can’t just be a one-off campaign, otherwise we will have wasted it and we will be back at square one.”

So, while the new adverts hit TV screens across the country, no doubt raising a few titters of enjoyment and, hopefully, the right questions in the right ears, the partnership between Family and the Dunfermline is certainly one that has benefited from a longer and happier relationship.

Diary by David Isaac and Kevin Bird

One day you’re in the heart of Govan, the next you’re in the heat of Barcelona. That’s commercials for you.

A quick outline of Dunfermline Building Society’s new commercial: it’s based on “longer, happier relationships”. The premise being that any relationship benefits from good advice. And if you know your customers well you are better placed to offer the right advice. (Keep it simple, we always say).

From the outset we knew that the success of the commercials relied on strong performances and casting. Also we wanted the commercials to look and feel different to the usual financial advertising you see on the box.

Through Micky MacPherson at Ice Commercials we got in touch with the director Richard Dale. His CV makes impressive reading. He’s directed the award-winning drama “Teachers”, had a spell directing EastEnders and won an eclectic array of BAFTAs. After meeting him, we knew instantly he was right for the job.

Day One. Govan and pigeons

Arrive “on set”, as they say, which is a hive of activity. Today’s scenario: a man is painting numerous shades of blue squares on his living room wall. He can’t decide which one he likes. Wife enters. Hands him a cup of tea and leaves revealing one pink square amongst the many blues. On the mug we can see the words: “Go with the pink.”

The shoot is going swimmingly until a couple of pigeons slip through security (or rather a hole in a window). Repeatedly, one of the pigeons takes flight on the director’s order of “Action.” As we’re recording sound tomorrow the decision is taken to shoot the pigeons. Literally. A quick call to the SSPCA takes care of this.

Day Two. Casting in Edinburgh. Shooting in Govan

Before we leave for the shoot, Kevin and I have to cast the model we’re taking to Barcelona for the stills shoot. This entails looking at 12 bikini-clad girls parading before you. There is a god.

Arrive at Govan and review the wide shot they’ve already taken. Looks fantastic – rich colours and contrasts well with the paint scene. This scenario involves a woman in her bedroom moisturising her legs. Background, in the en-suite, we see a man wincing as he cuts himself shaving. Tub of moisturiser put down in the foreground and on it we can read the words, “Don’t use his razor to shave your legs.”

Break for lunch, which, amongst other things, consists of noodles with pieces of “chicken” ... No, they couldn’t have.

Day Three. Casting, Barcelona

Meet in the morning at Edinburgh Airport. After changing at Birmingham (planes, not clothes), arrive in Barcelona mid-afternoon. Check in at hotel and straight to casting session of girls in bikinis for TV commercial. There is a Spanish god too.

Meet up with Brian and Neil from Dunfermline Building Society and the rest of the crew for a quiet meal in the evening. Aye, right.

Day Three. Beach recce, Barcelona

Up at 5 a.m. and off to quiet secluded beach to work out the shots. Well, Richard and his director of photography, Chris Hartley, do this while we cower in the shade. After 9 a.m., quiet secluded beach becomes noisy, mobbed beach – important tomorrow that we take the wider shots before 9 a.m. Spend the day recovering from sleep deprivation.

Day Four. Barcelona shoot. Hot

Busy day with live action and stills shoot happening simultaneously. Our photographer, Mark Seager from the Picture House, finds ideal location for the shot – not ideally located beyond treacherous rocks. Spend rest of day in intense heat traipsing from one shoot to another. Actors from the live action shoot perform brilliantly and consistently. (Simple scenario: young couple sunbathing. Man clocks beach babe. Wide shot reveals sign that reads: “Stop staring at other women.”)

Both shoots go really well. So well, in fact, that Brian, Neil and “our Jill” hatch a plot and call Ian Wright in Edinburgh and tell him it’s all going pear-shaped. Being the experienced professional he is, Ian fails to bite, but does put in a cautionary call to ask, “How is it going?” Finally, at 4 p.m. we hear those immortal words, “It’s a wrap.” Which roughly translates to, “It’s a beer.” And a well deserved one at that.

Most memorable moment? Kevin and the stunning model walking back from the stills shoot through a crowded beach with Kevin carrying the sign: “Stop staring at other women.” Okay, you had to be there.

Day Five. Home. Torrential rain, flash floods

Long flight delay. Edinburgh Airport’s closed with lightning, thunder and torrential rain. Back down to earth with a bump.

It’s been a brilliant few days and we’d like to thank the client, Brian and Neil from DBS for giving us this brilliant opportunity. And Micky and everyone at Ice Commercials for making it all possible.

Now, where on earth did I put that after-sun?


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