Multi-platform research

Insight and analysis into the roles of multi-platform newsbrands in delivering effective advertising.

Halifax – innovating via print

Halifax's print advertising campaigns demonstrate how innovation can be used to stand out from competitors in the banking sector and reconnect with consumers during a financial crisis.

After the banking crisis hit in 2009, UK consumers' trust in the financial sector hit an all-time low. Despite the legacy of positive sentiment Halifax had built up by its former status as a building society and its successful 'staff as stars' advertising (think Howard Brown), the brand could not escape the reputational damage sweeping the financial services category.

When the financial crisis erupted, Halifax had just developed an upbeat, musically-themed TV campaign, which was quickly rendered unsuitable by events.

 Starting in 2010, and extending to 2013/4, Halifax therefore worked with newsbrands on a series of initiatives to develop innovative print formats and ad shapes. These were designed to respond to the crisis by reaffirming the brand's challenger status in its sector and tapping into the trust consumers have in newsbrands.

Working with MEC as its media agency and first DLKW and then adam&eveDDB as its creative agencies, Halifax secured a number of media firsts and publishing arrangements to help it cut through with the public and stand out from the competition.

For Halifax, this strategy has led to a positive effect on how people perceive one of its most important pillars – value. 

 Key findings:

  • Halifax needed to keep innovating to deliver visually impactful print messages and ensure it was seen as a challenger and not treated as just another, unpopular bank
  • The brand began by using 'bookend' formats in 2010, which gave it two messages and two ad sites on opposing pages
  • Halifax then moved on from bookends to bookmarks, inserting a bound-in bookmark into the middle of the Guardian – and creating the 'Haliflap' in the process
  • In 2012 Halifax was the first brand to have a half-page cover wrap on the Guardian. It followed this with formats such as the chequerboard, the Tetris and zig-zag, that have given its messages striking visual appeal. Halifax ran a T-junction format on the 15th Mar 2013 in the Independent. It was the first time this format had run in any national press title
  • Agreements with publishers such as Trinity Mirror, the Telegraph and the Evening Standard have enabled Halifax to secure key print positions for its ads over extended periods
  • In 2013/14, Halifax adopted a strategy to ensure long-term high visibility of its print ads to deliver its 'Extra Value for You' offer

Known as the value bedrock, this strand of communications was conceived as a way to position Halifax...

… as the bank that gives extra value, with a range of products and services.

 The idea was to be long on detail about the good value the brand was offering, while being visually punchy and often seen.

 To achieve this, Halifax agreed with all the partner newspapers that it would have the first half-page ad each week, in specific editions, all year round. This delivered 41 weeks of first finance, first format positioning and was the first time these papers offered this guarantee.

As a result, Halifax also became the first advertiser to run on page two in the Sunday Mirror and Sun on Sunday, allowing the bank to reach nearly two-thirds of its audience each week by doing this alone.

Other initiatives included:

  • Halifax was a launch partner for Telegraph on Kindle Fire
  • To promote its 7 Day Switch campaign, which encouraged consumers to move their accounts to Halifax, the brand ran seven competition advertorials across seven days
  • To drive even deeper engagement it partnered with ESI to build bespoke supplements across its portfolio

For Halifax, this long-term strategy of working with newsbrands to innovate has led to a positive effect on how people perceive one of its most important pillars – value.

Halifax and newsbrands have been able to push the press product and keep innovation at Halifax's heart as a challenger brand.

In this rapidly evolving landscape, publishers, advertisers and agencies will have to work together, if they want to stay ahead.

By working together through turbulent times in close partnership, Halifax and key newsbrands have been able to push the press product and keep innovation at Halifax's heart as a challenger brand.

James Appleby, business director, MEC



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