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By The Drum | Editorial

November 28, 2023 | 9 min read

Santander and House 337 have won the Consumer Services category at The Drum Awards for Social Media. Here is the award-winning case study.

Fraud and scams are an ongoing (and seemingly intractable) problem for Santander, as they are for other banks and consumers across the UK. In 2021, consumers in the UK lost more than £1.3bn to financial fraud, and fraud accounted for more than 40% of all reported crimes.

Fraud and scams were supercharged during the pandemic as other forms of crime became more difficult or less lucrative. The biggest growth has been in Authorised Push Payment (APP) fraud, in which customers voluntarily hand over their money or personal information to fraudsters. These sorts of frauds are particularly difficult for banks to prevent because there is no security breach at the bank that could be plugged – the customer has actively chosen to hand that money over. For Santander to reduce losses to fraud and scams, customers themselves needed to be more resilient to fraudulent approaches.

This was the challenge set out in early 2022 – how could Santander help customers themselves to be more resilient to fraudulent approaches, and thus less likely to fall victim to scams?

Strategy: APP fraud is an industry-wide problem, so a lot of work had already been done to identify the best way in which to protect oneself from this type of fraud. There is industry-wide consensus that consumers simply need to stop and think before handing over money or personal details.

But although the message itself is simple, getting that message across to our audience was not. Most APP scams start with calls, texts, or emails, in which fraudsters spam a random list of contacts that has been stolen or scraped. That means that scams are not targeted – if you have a phone or an email address (i.e. most of the UK adult population), you could be approached by a scammer.

Nevertheless, the popular conception of scam victims is that they are doddery old grannies being door-stopped by dodgy dealers. A Stanford-led study found that 43% of people believe that scam victims are gullible and 31% believe that scam victims lack common sense. Mike Haley, CEO of Cifas (a not-for-profit that is the UK’s leading fraud prevention service) summarises the negative view of victims of fraud and scams:

“I could be burgled, and everyone would have sympathy for me, I would not feel shame or embarrassment about it, and other people would have some empathy. With a fraud, there is a degree to which people will feel ashamed and embarrassed to even speak about it. They feel, as do others, that they brought it on themselves in some way.”

This negative view of scam victims – as gullible people who lack common sense, and who somehow brought the fraud upon themselves – means that many people simply don’t think that they would ever fall victim to a scam. They, therefore, ignore communications that feel aimed at the gullible fools who would.

Trying to change this view is nigh-on impossible – no consumer wants to hear a brand tell them that they are more gullible and less savvy than they think. We, therefore, knew that telling a rational story wasn’t going to work. Instead, we needed to sneak under their defences with something so entertaining that they couldn’t help but pay attention to it, and something so catchy that they couldn’t help but remember it.

We took inspiration from some of the brilliant public service campaigns of the past, which have used jingles, ditties, and earworms to land their message and make it stick. For example, the THINK! Road Safety campaign, which ran from 1997 to 2010, used cartoon hedgehogs to encourage children to “Stop, Look and Listen”. Melbourne Metro Trains “Dumb Ways To Die” campaign, which first launched in 2012, used that winning combination of entertainment and earworm to discourage unsafe behaviour around trains.

Our strategy was to entertain our way past people’s firewalls with an unmissable and unforgettable earworm and leave them with a message that they could not help but remember – even if they didn’t think that it was relevant to them.

In the ‘Bank of Antandec’ we had a ready-made, highly successful creative vehicle to deliver our message. Its premise is that Britain’s best-loved entertainers, Ant & Dec, have left broadcasting to pursue their true passion: banking. They set up the ‘Bank of Antandec’ (which sounds and looks suspiciously similar to ‘Santander’) and proceed to come up with daft solutions to real consumer challenges, which are contrasted with Santander’s simple, smart, and sensible solutions.

In this execution, the CEOs of the Bank of Antandec have once again identified a real consumer challenge – the fact that anyone can fall for a scam. To combat this problem, they have invented ‘fraud-detecting scammer pants’ – bright red, MC Hammer-style parachute pants that inflate and start playing music when the wearer receives a scam text. As the pants inflate, Ant & Dec perform a scam-themed rendition of MC Hammer’s iconic 1990 track ‘U Can’t Touch This’, complete with Hammer-style dance moves and a call to ‘Stop! Scammertime!’ when approached by fraudsters.

The re-worked track provided the unmissable and unforgettable earworm that enabled our message to be noticed and remembered by our audience, even if they didn’t think that it was relevant to them. Because anyone can fall victim to a scam, we used TV, Cinema, and Radio to maximise reach. Digital channels were used to target people in situations in which they are more likely to fall victim to a scam – such as when they are in ‘buying mode’ and already have payment details to hand. We further extended our reach with a TikTok branded effect and hashtag challenge that enabled users to don augmented reality versions of the scammer pants and dance along to ‘Stop! Scammertime!’.

Results: Expectations for this campaign were modest – it was Santander’s first major TV-led anti-scam campaign, and the business struggled to set hard targets for success.

That modesty was misplaced. The campaign met or out-performed expectations on every measure – capturing the attention of our audience, landing our message, prompting them to educate themselves further, and, most importantly, reducing the amount of money lost to fraud and scams.

The amount lost to fraud and scams at Santander decreased by 30% during the campaign period. Because the campaign communicated a simple method (‘stop and think’) for protecting yourself from fraudulent approaches, it is likely that those who received and remembered our message will continue to be more resilient in the future.

That resilience will have been further compounded by the efforts that customers made to educate themselves about fraud and scams in the wake of the campaign – visits to the ‘stopping fraud and scams’ page on increased by 7,000% during the campaign. Moreover, the percentage of people who considered Santander to be active in preventing fraud and scams increased from 21% to 31% over the course of the campaign.

These outstanding results would not have been possible if the campaign had not been seen and remembered. Total brand communication awareness increased from 25% to 33%, achieving a top 2 spot versus competitors, despite Santander’s media investment only placing them 5th for Share of Voice during that period. The TikTok branded effect and hashtag challenge outperformed even TikTok’s wildest hopes, achieving more than 1.1bn UK views (more than 180 times

Fraud and scams are an ongoing challenge for Santander, reflecting a broader issue across the UK banking sector and consumers. In 2021, financial fraud cost UK consumers over £1.3 billion, constituting more than 40% of all reported crimes.

The pandemic escalated these challenges as traditional crime avenues dwindled, leading to a surge in Authorised Push Payment (APP) fraud. APP fraud involves customers voluntarily providing money or personal details to scammers, posing a complex problem for banks as there's no direct security breach involved.

To reduce losses to fraud, Santander aimed to empower customers to be more resilient against fraudulent approaches. The strategy leveraged industry-wide consensus on the need for consumers to pause and evaluate before sharing money or personal information.

However, conveying this simple message faced obstacles. Scams often begin with mass communications via calls, texts, or emails, making anyone with a phone or email susceptible. Yet, the prevailing stereotype of scam victims as naive or lacking common sense complicates reaching audiences effectively.

Acknowledging that rational messaging wouldn't suffice, Santander pursued an engaging approach inspired by successful public service campaigns. They tapped into the Bank of Antandec, featuring Ant & Dec, beloved entertainers, who comically tackle real consumer challenges. In this campaign, the duo introduced 'fraud-detecting scammer pants' with an entertaining rendition of 'U Can't Touch This' to alert against scams.

The campaign utilized TV, cinema, radio, and digital channels strategically. Digital platforms targeted moments when individuals might fall prey to scams. A TikTok challenge and branded effect encouraged users to engage with augmented reality scammer pants and the campaign's message.

The campaign exceeded expectations, significantly reducing fraud losses at Santander by 30%. It prompted increased visits to fraud prevention pages on their website by 7,000%, demonstrating improved customer education on fraud prevention. Perception of Santander actively combating fraud increased from 21% to 31%, showcasing its impact on consumer sentiment.

Despite modest initial goals, the campaign significantly enhanced brand awareness, outperforming competitors despite Santander's lower media investment. The TikTok challenge garnered over 1.1 billion views, surpassing anticipated metrics by a wide margin.

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