The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Standard Bullshit?
May 5, 2010, 5:55 am
Filed under: Comment

What is going on at TBWA?

It’s an agency that I like, but recently their [network] work seems to be more about corporate toadiness than communication disruption.

OK, so not all of their work is like that – and they still are in possession of some of the most brilliant and talented people in the biz – but there’s been a couple of recent campaigns that seem to indicate their ‘disruption’ philosophy has been consigned to the dustbin or been re-engineered so that it can represent whatever delusional rubbish their clients want to say.

What am I talking about?

Well I am sure you remember their god awful ‘GO’ campaign for VISA … also known as “get in debt chasing the illusion of happiness even though all you’ll be left with are bills, broken dreams and bankruptcy” … however they’ve gone and surpassed themselves with this minute of delusion for Standard Chartered Bank.

Sorry, but this is just taking the piss.

Whilst there genuinely is an opportunity for a bank to take the high-ground and make/take a stand against some of the flagrant excesses of the industry over the past few decades – Standard Charter is not one them.

To be fair, they seem to know that because throughout this 1 minute of condescending, contrived bullshit they never actually say or commit to anything that demonstrates why they’re different to all the other blood sucking international finance leeches, instead they seem content to expose us to a seemingly never-ending stream of Z-grade Mr Miyagi expressions:

“Balance ambition, with conscious”

“To do what it must, not what it can”

“Not everything in life that counts, can be counted”

“Don’t just look at the profit you make, but how you make that profit”

“Stand beside people, not above them”

“Every solution, depends on each person”

Are they having a laugh?

Are they having a fucking laugh?

You know what, I don’t think they are … I think they genuinely believe this shit … which is even more amazing given they don’t give a single example of what they’re doing to live up to their claim of “HERE FOR GOOD”.


I don’t know what amazes me more, the fact TBWA let this happen or that no one at Standard Charter actually asked or considered the question, “Are we opening ourselves up to ridicule here?”

Kill coldplay

History is littered with people and organisations who have made huge financial contributions to charities/society in a bid to off-set/hide the fact they made their millions/billions through the exploitation, manipulation and scare-tactics of people, communities and cultures … but at least they coughed up … as far as I know, all Standard Chartered have done is sponsor a marathon and pay obscene amounts of money to their employees as annual ‘bonuses’.

Even if what Standard Charter claim is true – the fact they [1] don’t actually explain what/how they do stuff and [2] have to talk about it because no fucker knows about it, demonstrates there’s something wrong with their whole “societies bank” premise, which all leads back to my original point that the disruption philosophy banded about by TBWA seems less to be about an intelligent alternative and more to do with standing out for the sake of standing out – albeit by creating some of the most emotionless, bland, passive pseudo-anthemic communication since the last Coldplay album.

Adland needs a strong TBWA – so please make us believe again, for everyones sake.

39 Comments so far
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Isn’t the real problem that taking the high ground requires a sublimation of ego and yet the ad is all about them?

Comment by John Dodds

that and they shout meaningless fucking ego nonsense at people.

“we are all about you, now listen while we bore you fucking senseless with ambiguous messages of why you should feel lucky to have us.”


Comment by andy@cynic

tbwa did this?

somebody at tbwa wrote that fucking primary school copy?

what did lee say? too many agencies are the clients propoganda department? too fucking right with this shit. theres pleasing the client and theres sucking the clients cock but this seems like tbwa are happy getting a pearl fucking necklace.

tbwa have changed ever since the big shuffle at the top. sure theyve won big clients like pepsi and visa but theyre turning into fucking mccanns. it might be good if a bank did the shit standard chart said but thats the problem, theyre just (shit) words with no fucking explanation of what they actually do which means with such a contrived piece of fluffery im betting theyre going with the nice pictures no fucking strategy strategy as favoured by most conmen.

you did right to pan this campbell, it says nothing except try and make them look like theyre a bank that cares. well guess fucking what standard charter, all the banks have tried that one then the crash happened and the truth of how much you fucking cared came out and youre not going to be immune from that on closer fucking inspection.

may of worked if theyd started by introducing tangible benefits to everyfuckingcustomer before they ran a fucking egofest ad campaign but actually doing stuff people need and want is way fucking more expensive than shoving some pictures and a shit v/o on the gogglebox.

shit ad for a shit category from an agency that needs to change disruption to slave. get your fucking balls back tbwa, its what made you great.

Comment by andy@cynic

This made you angry didn’t it Andy!

Good. I like you when you’re angry with purpose rather than just itching to have a fight for the sake of it.

Comment by Rob

it would all be different if chiat had taken over tbwa not the other fucking way round. if they cant work out what media arts is, then theres no fucking chance theyll work out why campaigns like this are shit and against the real fucking principals of disruption.

as soon as they tried to turn disruption into a process they could flog it went tits up. disruption isnt a process its an attitude and way of life and you either have it or you dont and as soon as you start saying there are degrees of disruption, youre fucked and are basically admitting money comes before principals.

im fucking glad i worked at chiat but fucking over the moon it’s not now.

Comment by andy@cynic

You’re on a roll …

Comment by Rob

Even if there was an explanation of how the bank were “here for good” that commercial would still be contrived and terribly written.

Comment by Pete


Comment by Billy Whizz

There are actually tons of opportunities for banks (and airlines) to put their money where their mouths is and I am not even talking about giving shed-loads to charities, lovely though that is. It’s just that none of them want to and judging by this it seems they’d rather, to quote andy, shout meaningless fucking ego nonesense at people.

Still as long as they ALL keep fucking over consumers they’ll be fine. We need banks. It’s if one of them starts really doing right that they need to worry.


Comment by Rafik

I’ve said for ages that I’d love to start a bank because I reckon you could make a shitload of cash simply by addressing a few things people actually want/need. If Bank Of America [not the best example but bare with me] can get an extra 2.5 million customers simply by saying they’ll help people save by rounding up whatever’s spent and putting it into a savings account, can you imagine the numbers of people you’d attract if you did some stuff that actually demonstrated you were worthy of being trusted and supported.

We say society is fickle, but give them something of emotional value [not just rational] and the loyalty can be as fierce as it ever has been. It’s just that you have to invest in that and too many organisations [and their shareholders] view it as an expense.

Comment by Rob

Effective disruption starts with action not words, even more so when all those words are ultimately saying nothing at all. Very poor.

Comment by George

That’s exactly what I would say if I had the talent to be so bloody precise.

Comment by Rob

I appreciated that head-nod to “Extras” you put in there, Rob 😉

Comment by Age

You mean this one?

Comment by Rob


Comment by Age

I’m sure Jill will be over-the-moon I’ve brought that post back.

Comment by Rob

We’ll let you know.

Comment by John Dodds

The only thing this ad tells me is the bank likes to talk about themselves and believe that’s enough to claim they’re great. Almost as bad as the Chevron ad that talks about building schools and communities in impoverished areas. By an amazing stroke of luck, all these areas have oil.

Comment by Bazza

It would appear we’re all ignorant little fucks given this sycophantic article in Media Magazine.

Is this really news?

Is it really helping demonstrate the skill and value of the industry … or is it another example of an agency crawling to their client?

I leave it to you to decide.

Comment by Rob

Brand belief or brand delusion?

Comment by John

Bank proves it can afford to fill a minute with something expensive. Not communicating but marking it’s territory. Dogs, lampposts etc.

Comment by Chris

Typical Disruption twaddle. Find a convetion (people don’t trust banks) and fill the gap, without considering if there is anything of substance to back up your claims, just plough on ahead.
Rather than delving into the real culture around banking, or finding something in the culture of the client.
Even then it could have been saved if they started with DOING stuff rather than SAYING stuff.
And you’re right Andy, they really are the new Mccanns. You should see Tom Carrol’s regular webcasts, genuinely hillarious.
Now I’m warmed up I think i might have to write something about the galloping midget…..

Comment by northern

youre giving me the fucking horn northern.

disruption works when you find a way to make an opposing view relevant to the needs and fucking wants of the audience, not just say the fucking opposite for the sake of opposite.

jay chiat should haunt tom carrol to an early fucking grave. but then so should burnett, bernbach, ogilvy, thomson, young & that rubicam bloke.

Comment by andy@cynic

…and was Lee Clow actually any good at any point, or did he strike lucky wih Apple?
TBWA London was built on Trevor Beattie and hasn’t really done anything of note since he left.
And as for the Paris office – mon deui (or however you spell it)

Comment by northern

blame the frogs. go on, youre almost there. do english advertising fucking proud. fuck it, do england proud.

tangent time. where the fuck is lauren? if we have to suffer this fucking blog she has to as well. and age, wheres that fucker. and mortimer? seb? how the fuck have they escaped and i havent?

marcus. campbell told me hes bought your book. he bought it on cynics expenses. i trust i will be in fucking awe and not tell him to pay for it himself. fucking chuffed youve got off your arse to make some money with your madness rather than give it away for lazy agency wankers to use and make money from.

Comment by andy@cynic

Thanks Boucher. I’m chuffed too. I’m very proud of Jack – I think he’s the best character yet and yes, it would be lovely if I could make some money. We’ll see how it goes.

You OK?

Comment by Marcus

oh im very fucking well indeed but then campbell hasnt put his next brain killing blog post up yet.

Comment by andy@cynic

I LOVVVVVVVVE the new and improved NP. Funny though, I think the TBWA lot may not be so amused.

Comment by Rob

I don’t care. I’ve published a little book. Good afternoon.

Comment by Marcus

And quire right too

Comment by northern

That should have been quite right…….

Comment by northern

no wonder theres an issue with trust nowadays. quite like the for good pun tho. its confidence, reliability and csr in one lol
to be fair, i dont know whether they are actually doing anything ‘good’ in real life. which, on the other hand, is the problem with the spot, i guess.

Comment by peggy

I didnt know this was an international ad, hehe, thought it was from here. Fits just along side the other ads. Quite disappointing to see Sagmeister be involved (different version/same copy), the dialogue is too distracting to focus on the visuals.

Comment by Jacob

You’re still being too nice Jacob.

Now how are you and how are you finding the new ‘home’?

Comment by Rob

im still in the old home, stuck with watching the same old ads – vietnamese paperwork for you. Got the chance to travel around the area for a bit though. Just heard about your news – congrats – no blog post to annouce it? 🙂
How did the launch of the motorbike go?

Comment by Jacob

Blog post is tomorrow … and a version of the bike is out in Europe but only in small doses in Vietnam as it – like you – is having ‘paperwork’ issues.

Comment by Rob

I couldn’t agree more about this campaign. It seems extremely disingenuous.
How the hell did it win a Gold at the AME awards then?!!

Comment by PeteH

Trust me, I did all I could to have it chucked out – especially as I question whether it’s ‘effectiveness’ had anything to do with the campaign. Bit like Yellow Pages, more like a client driven thing than an agency thing – but that aside, in my mind it was no where near deserving of a platinum award, but then I didn’t feel anything was.

Comment by Rob

who gives a fuck.

Comment by andy@cynic

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