Boniswa Pezisa. Picture: SUPPLIED
Boniswa Pezisa. Picture: SUPPLIED

Financial services advertising in SA is characterised by jargon and little differentiation. Advertising in this category tends to fall into one of two categories: more factual ads that use complicated jargon and emotive storytelling that does little to reveal the brand or product’s differentiation. 

According to Wendy Bergsteedt, Coronation head of marketing, brands have been doing a good job of telling stories and relying on big budgets to do so. But no sooner has one brand crafted a unique creative space than competitors follow suit. “We have to achieve a level of brand distinction, ideally based on original brand meaning and purpose,” she says.

Many brands in the financial services category continue to rely on a more esoteric approach to get their proposition across, she points out.

“A big challenge for financial services brands is misattribution,” says Bergsteedt. “Given the parity in the category and competitive spend patterns, consumers are generally confused.”

Locally, media spend in financial services continues to rise, which means that cutting through the clutter should be the focus of marketers in this category. “The lesson here is that you shouldn’t be focusing on outspending but rather on outsmarting through brand distinction,” she says.

The big take-out:

Financial services brands shouldn’t be focusing on outspending but rather  on outsmarting through brand distinction.

Coronation aims to stand out by illustrating how trustworthy the brand is, a trait that in the current era of fake news and populist culture is perhaps more important than ever before. The company’s latest commercial, “Trust Every Day” looks back over the past 25 years through the lens of an SA family, interweaving the family’s history with significant events in the country over the past quarter century.

It’s a beautifully made ad by BBDO SA which, according to BBDO CEO Boniswa Pezisa, aims to take Coronation out of a category that’s saturated with institutional storytelling and offer a more human, empathetic point of view.

“It’s critical that we relate to people in a way that resonates with them,” explains Bergsteedt. “What we aim to do in our above-the-line work is to build onto universal human rights that everyday people can relate to and to dial into universal human insights.”

She says the brand’s latest commercial isn’t about delivering return on investment but building resonance through telling the story. “Coronation is not a hard-sell brand; we’re an intermediated business attracting investors who resonate with our investment philosophy – which is a long-term, value-creation approach. We need to allow consumers time to think about their investment choice, which in this case is investing their hard-earned savings over meaningful periods of time for the best outcome.”

As consumers increasingly choose to support brands that stand for something, Bergsteedt says she is encouraged by the many brands that are involved in meaningful campaigns to drive a positive narrative in the country. “It’s inspiring to watch financial services brands stepping up to the plate and getting involved in driving sustainable change,” she says.