The bank of difference

Advertising the difference.

I have already written, and hopefully demonstrated, that cultural disparities are creative superhighways that advertising agencies exploit to engage their audience. They basically emphasize the difference to create a difference.

The purpose of advertising is indeed to think beyond conventions, "out of the box". By tapping into other civilisation "boxes", they create the expected rupture. And trigger the expected effect: usually empathy, a smile, or even a good laughter.

This is a typical human reflex against alien elements. When the unknown disrupts your classical scheme of beliefs, your habits, etc. you tend to create a distance to protect the constitutive bricks of your self. A laughter (or a Parisian shrug) are simply physical expressions of a tension that one tends to dedramatize...

Cultural anxiety at the counter

HSBC has decided to capitalise on this phenomenon and to turn it into a brand positioning: the global bank which remains local.

Beyond the demonstration of my first point, these films literally reinforce my point on the fear of the unknown. They indeed sell the Bank understanding of local business/cultures in a very negative approach. Both executions deliver anxiogene visions of the other culture, and depict a lost customer gasping for air (and help). "If you don't know, we do. Trust us".

Personally I perceive this communication as eventually funny, but definitely peremptory. However, to be totally honest, it matches the attitude of the bank towards its prospects and customers. Ever entered an HSBC branch, let say on the Champs Elysees? That is a cultural experience, because we do not seem to live in the same world.

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