Why TSB and The Guardian put the spotlight on romantic relationships in account switching campaign

Are you and your bank meant to be together?

The Guardian was commended for Best Financial Services Content Marketing Strategy at The Drum Content Awards 2019 with its ‘Relationship Project’ campaign for TSB. In this case study, The Guardian team reveals the challenges faced and the strategies used to deliver this successful campaign.

The challenge

TSB have a problem that’s common to all banks: persuading people to switch their current account over to them is a difficult task. Most people presume the hassle of switching won’t be outweighed by the rewards – which means that even if very few of us are happy with our bank’s behaviour, we still don’t ditch them.

In fact, we’d sooner separate from our long-term partner than our bank - most people stay with the same current account for 6-7 years longer than they stay in their romantic relationship. To overcome this fundamental challenge, we had to deliver the salesman’s equivalent of a foot in the door: we needed to build consideration for TSB’s current account as one worth switching for.

The strategy

The fact that we are more likely to ditch a romantic partner than we are to ditch our bank led us to our creative idea - would you let your partner treat you the way your bank does?!

When we looked at our audience data, we discovered that our readers were 64 times more likely to read relationship content than banking content - at that point, we knew we were on to something.

We created a campaign named ‘The Relationship Project’ - a review of the state of the nation’s relationships and the factors that make us decide to finally pull the plug. And then - in true Guardian style - we launched it on Valentine’s Day.

The campaign

Pre-launch, we engaged IPSOS/ Mori to conduct a nationwide relationship census asking people how they felt about their banking and how they felt about their banking and romantic relationships. Compiling the data into an interactive content piece, we splashed the results all over the front of the Guardian and provocatively asked the nation: “Could you do better?”

Nudging readers to consider their own moments of truth, we launched a content series named ‘The Final Straw’: a series of short, shareable videos delivered by comedy talent, Mo Gilligan, Shappi Khorsandi and Miles Jupp riffing to camera about the moment they knew they had to break up with their partner. These were published on our website with shared cut downs delivered on The Guardian and TSB’s owned social media channels, with TSB pushing them on Twitter over weekends.

The videos were watched more than 400k times each (exceeding their KPIs by 159%) and had view-through rates of over 65%. This content was backed up with features about breaking up, asking questions such as ‘How many break ups does it take to find The One?’ - which had a huge dwell time of 4 minutes.

After encouraging our readers to re-evaluate their banking relationships, we followed up with easy to understand articles about how simple it can be to make the switch.

The results

The campaign went way beyond every single KPI we were set - but most importantly, our readers were 77% more likely to consider switching to TSB after seeing the content.

Pete Markey, chief marketing officer at TSB, said: “The Relationship Project with its smart insight, robust data, clear and imaginative content and slick media plan was a huge success for TSB.”

This campaign was commended in The Drum Content Awards 2019. If you think you can do better, register your interest in next year's awards.

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