Topics at the most recent Financial Mail AdForum event, held in association with Ornico, included advertising in the financial sector, the newest adverts to be flighted and marketing trends in this competitive industry.

As more and more banks in the sector work hard at digital transformation, they plan to invest more resources into technology and focus on greater innovation, so as not to lose market share to small challenger brands.

The panel last week consisted of Havas CEO Lynn Madeley, Ornico’s Mongezi Mtati, founder and CEO of Make Beautiful  Zwelakhe Tshabangu, and Fairly Famous founder and creative partner Deon Wiggett. They dissected some of the latest television commercials to come out of the sector.

First up was the new offering from Allan Gray, which was popular among most of the audience members but less so with the panel. While beautifully shot in Allan Gray style, Madeley said she found the storyline sad and failed to see the point of the ad, questioning whether people like the advert itself or enjoyed it simply because it’s by Allan Gray. Tshabangu said it was brave of the brand to do the ad in the vernacular.

Capitec’s retail advert promoting its credit card offering was disliked by both the panel and the audience. Mtati said nothing about the ad was creative, while Tshabangu believed Capitec missed an opportunity with it. The bank is a challenger brand, he said, but the advert had no heart and he didn’t identify with it. Wiggett pointed out the low-budget look and feel was deliberate, and true to Capitec’s no-nonsense positioning.

Some of the latest crop of ads from the financial services sector was dissected at the recent Financial Mail AdForum event.

FNB’s TV ad for life insurance was lambasted by the panel – they said the brand didn’t stand out, the concept was ambiguous and there was no craft to it. Madeley suggested that FNB has lost its way since the “Steve” campaign and has gone off strategy. Mtati said the ad tried to address too many things in 15 seconds.

Marriott Income Specialists’s “Invest for income” TV ad was similarly disliked by both the audience and the panel. Madeley said it was boring and looked like a PowerPoint presentation. She said it is a problem when agencies are not doing the right work and that it affects their clients’ bottom line.

Prudential’s advert for investment management received some mixed responses. Madeley said the ad was real, with a charming storyline that works with the brand’s message of consistency. Wiggett said beautiful ads are a hygiene factor in the sector and consistency can hardly be considered a differentiator in it. Mtati said the ad comes from a logical human truth about saving but does not have an African context. He said agencies should be guiding their clients to be brave and different, or all ads in the sector will look the same. Madeley agreed, saying that this should come from the strategists and the MD.

Standard Bank’s “From Bud to Bloom” Protea sponsorship advert was perceived as aggressive by most of the audience and panel. Madeley said it was off strategy, while Tshabangu liked it and said that since it was about cricket development and not a brand piece there was space to move off strategy. Mtati pointed out that it works from the perspective of the way sports teams compete.

Master of ceremonies Phumi Mashigo concluded by saying that it is important for brands to remain clear about their strategy and to look for new ways.