Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

It’s a turbulent and uncertain time for the SA economy, and this is having a knock-on effect on financial services companies. In recent times alone, SA’s top five banks have been slapped with a credit ratings downgrade from ratings agency Moody’s. The country is in recession and a poor economic outlook means investor confidence is at a record low.

Last week Moody’s also downgraded SA’s local and foreign currency rating, citing President Jacob Zuma’s cabinet reshuffle and the reduced growth prospects for an economy that is in the grip of a recession. At the same time the agency downgraded its outlook on the rating from stable to negative.

How do banks market and advertise in this uncertain environment? On June 30, at the next AdForum event, Ornico and the Financial Mail, together with a panel of industry thinkers that include Jeremy Maggs, will unpack the prevailing advertising trends among some of the leading financial services companies.

According to Ornico’s Africa Brand Index, the banking industry accounts for much of the social media content among top brands in SA, primarily as a result of queries from people who engage online rather than with a branch or a contact centre.

At the time of writing, South Africans had not yet started asking questions on social media about the downgrade, and the volume of content has not increased dramatically, reports Ornico marketing manager Mongezi Mtati. “We predict this will soon change, signalling potential instability for the financial services sector.”

Mtati says the financial services sector has shifted from a focus on price sensitivity to paying greater attention to the human element in their advertising in the past two years. “Nedbank’s TV commercial, which follows the journey of a bank note, Standard Bank’s ‘What’s your next’ and Capitec’s demonstration of the uses of its mobile app are just a few examples of messaging that tries to resonate on a human level,” he says.

If social media timelines are anything to go by, Nedbank has captured the hearts of many South Africans with a television commercial that sparked conversations about money, says Mtati. “The commercial invites the viewer to see money differently and to look at all the things a single note can do. The story follows the note’s journey in different contexts, from saving to gambling. The message is brought to life in [the] story.” 

A World Bank report reveals that SA is the most indebted country in the world, with most households not saving for a rainy day. This, says Mtati, is evidenced in the increased number of debt assistance and counselling ads now on air compared with a year ago.

Available data shows that the top debt counselling advertiser, National Debt Counsellors, accounts for over R50m of adspend on television between July 2016 and May 2017, says Mtati.  He says Debt Guidance followed, with just over R16m invested in its advertising for the same period. The other four advertisers in this category reached a total of R11,825,620. The majority began investing on television in 2017.

The Financial Mail AdForum event, in association with Ornico, will be held on June 30 at the Vega School  in Johannesburg.

For more information or to book your ticket, contact Melissa De Agrela  at deagrelam@timesmedia.co.za | (011) 280-3255.

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