Nationwide's Dominic West Commercial Faces U.K. Ban

Nationwide's Dominic West Commercial Faces U.K. Ban

Published: April 03, 2024

Nationwide Building Society's recent TV commercial starring “The Crown” actor Dominic West has been banned by the U.K. Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for misleading consumers.

The ads, which aired across various media platforms, depicted West in a fictional role as an unscrupulous bank executive casually discussing a branch closure with his subordinate.

In the one-minute video titled “A good way to bank,” West is seen impulsively deciding to shut down the branch occupying “the big space downstairs,” as his subordinate enviously stares at a Nationwide branch across the street.

“We’re not Nationwide, are we? We’re nothing like them,” West declares.

West’s character further mocks Nationwide, calling it a “total yawn fest” for caring about its customers’ life savings.

The bank executive then sees his ex-wife going into the Nationwide bank.

The ad ends with the message, “Unlike the big banks, we are not closing our branches.”

Included in the ASA ban are a radio advert and a press ad.

Why Nationwide’s Ad Was Deemed ‘Misleading’

The ASA stated in its ruling that Nationwide’s ads created a false impression and suggested a narrative different from the truth.

This is emphasized by the bank’s closure of 14 branches in the year preceding the release of the commercial.

One of the 282 complainants is Santander U.K., a bank that made headlines in 2021 for closing over 100 branches.

“We also understood that in the 12 months before the ad campaign, Santander had closed fewer branches than Nationwide,” the ASA stated in its ruling.

“At the time the ad was seen, Santander hadn't announced that they would be closing branches in the future, based on the information presented on the webpages linked to in the ads,” the watchdog added.

Although the ASA recognized that the TV ad was satirized, two statements (italicized above) were deemed as “likely to be seen by viewers as suggesting that Nationwide had decided to keep their branches open because of an understanding of the benefits for customers.”

According to the ASA, Nationwide clarified that “of the U.K.’s 10 major financial institutions, they were the only one to commit to not closing branches between now and 2026.”

Additionally, Nationwide used the present tense in the ad to reflect that “their Branch Promise referred to future branch closures and believed that consumers would interpret the claims as future-facing.”

However, the ASA viewed it differently and ruled the ads to be misleading.

“Because we considered that consumers would understand from the ads that Nationwide wouldn't be closing branches in the long-term future and that they hadn't recently closed branches, we concluded that the ads were misleading.”

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