The Chyron's Kuleshov
March 16, 2010 12:11 PM   Subscribe

Culture, Relativism, and Bank Ads
posted by jtron (33 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
How post-modern, to sell with ambiguity and deconstruction. HSBC, I do not salute you so much as regard you warily and ambivalently.
posted by GuyZero at 12:18 PM on March 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


Who are they trying to attract with these ads and why? These are some of the most interesting print ads I've ever seen for a bank, but the bar for interesting is set pretty low.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:28 PM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Good ads, from the standpoint of the advertiser. They're attention grabbing, memorable, and (as proven by this post) keep people talking about them long after they've seen them.
posted by rocket88 at 12:29 PM on March 16, 2010


They are my bank. But that's because they bought my previous bank. I was ambivalent at first.
posted by Obscure Reference at 12:31 PM on March 16, 2010


Because at HSBC we say, "Our banking practices are morally ambiguous, just like your life."
posted by Babblesort at 12:33 PM on March 16, 2010 [23 favorites]


Posts like this are why I love MetaFilter. This blog entry is one I never would have spotted, and it is making my brain do calisthenics as I consider the validity of moral judgments about lifestyle decisions.

I also love the irony of a big capitalist bank pitching itself as sensitive to local concerns by embracing so called moral relativism.
posted by bearwife at 12:43 PM on March 16, 2010


They should do this with particular countries on a world map.
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:44 PM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Slate had an article about one of HSBC's Television ads from the same campaign. Includes the line: "You've just been given goosebumps by an international banking conglomerate—sucker!"
posted by The Devil Tesla at 12:48 PM on March 16, 2010


Whoa. You know what's amazing? How two different people can look at the EXACT SAME POST, and one will be like TOTALLY WOW and the other will be like what?
posted by bicyclefish at 12:58 PM on March 16, 2010


HSBC could be evil, but from what I can see it doesn't seem like it does anything too damaging to the world culture. I would totally accept if someone figured out a way to make the fact that they are so huge a problem, or if they kept something a secret that was morally wrong.

Anyway, assuming that HSBC is a generally good company: I like these ads a lot. While it obviously is there to make the company look less like it's coming in and getting rid of local flavor by saying it respects culture, I think that the kind of respect that the ads for people who believe many different things is an idea worth spreading. If this was some kind of Ad Council campaign I would be ecstatic. The fact that it comes from a company means I'm less enthusiastic, but I'm still generally happy with it.

Best case: it helps resolve a few arguments caused by culture conflicts like this.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 1:00 PM on March 16, 2010


goatse | medical exam | our financial products

HSBC is always behind you.
posted by hal9k at 1:01 PM on March 16, 2010 [7 favorites]


Insightful.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 1:06 PM on March 16 [+] [!]

Hilarious.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 1:06 PM on March 16 [+] [!]

Just wants favorites.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 1:06 PM on March 16, 2010 [8 favorites]


More evidence that Marxist philosopher Fredric Jameson was right: postmodernism is the ideology of global capitalism.
posted by AlsoMike at 1:08 PM on March 16, 2010 [5 favorites]


Who are they trying to attract with these ads and why?

Everyone who has any money. Hence the ambiguity. Not being morally absolutist expands their appeal, softens their image, and makes banking seem less off-putting in a very bad PR time for banks. They are the world's largest banking group and they know anyone can find that fact out from Wikipedia, so they are trying to take a somewhat humble tone. At least until they rule the world and humility is no longer necessary.

They are simply saying that whatever your ambiguous moral belief is, money is a quantifiable absolute, and we want yours.
posted by tempestuoso at 1:10 PM on March 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


They should do this with particular countries on a world map.

China: Homeland. Massacres. Cheap goods.

USA: Home. Awesome. Terrible.

(All words may not be applicable to all readers.)
posted by kmz at 1:12 PM on March 16, 2010


METAFILTER: ENLIGHTENED | BENIGHTED | TIME SINK | SALVATION
posted by everichon at 1:18 PM on March 16, 2010


I like these in that they don't take people for idiots, i.e. pandering to the lowest common denominator, and that they are relatively thought-provoking.

I do wonder, however, whether most will remember what is being advertised.
posted by MelanieL at 1:19 PM on March 16, 2010


Here is a cultural absolute that probably got rejected as a jetway poster:

Profit:Profit.
posted by phyrewerx at 1:25 PM on March 16, 2010


For anyone who hasn't actually looked into it or seen one of the televised ads, the purpose they state is that HSBC is an international bank able to help guide you through your deals while being aware of the cultural differences that can cause problems.

AKA: "We make you less bothersome to people in other nations."
posted by Doug Stewart at 1:25 PM on March 16, 2010


I have no opinion of HBSC, but I kinda like the Style/ Soldier/ Survivor one.
posted by quin at 1:31 PM on March 16, 2010


i see these ads every time i pass through heathrow and they always make me cringe.

i get the highschool-grade philosophy of them, but they don't seem terribly interesting or intelligent. and the fact that they are all over the airpost just begins to bog me down.

it's as if their ad team got an epiphany and an unlimited budget to go crazy and become overly prolific. engender and traverse, indeed.
posted by artof.mulata at 1:32 PM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


HSBC
posted by quin at 1:32 PM on March 16, 2010


Adbusters have been doing this kind of thing since, um, forever.

Only, in their case the subjects aren't as innocuous as cakes & babies, but things like "terrorist" v "freedom fighter".
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:32 PM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hitler mustache | Chaplin mustache
Different values make the world a richer place - HSBC
posted by Omon Ra at 1:54 PM on March 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


"Our banking practices are morally ambiguous, just like your life."

Huh. That is kind of what it seems like.
For anyone who hasn't actually looked into it or seen one of the televised ads, the purpose they state is that HSBC is an international bank able to help guide you through your deals while being aware of the cultural differences that can cause problems.
I don't really think that's what they're trying to do. HSBC is marketing itself as a consumer bank for regular people, not just a huge megabank.
posted by delmoi at 3:04 PM on March 16, 2010


I think with the ambiguity, they're effectively trying to draw customers to whom critical thinking is important. I think those customers will only be interested or loyal to the extent that HSBC is a 'better' bank than their competitors, and that that base of customers will be constantly re-evaluating. I suspect that this is not as good a strategy as the usual one of appealing to people who are pissed off at their current bank, but I don't really understand bank marketing at all.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:09 PM on March 16, 2010


This is an interesting, if slightly simplistic, article.

from link: “The word values has become pretty much the property of conservatives, who take an absolutist position. Values tell us what’s right and wrong, and by God some things are just wrong. Abortion, gay marriage, Al Qaeda. And some things are just right. The War on Terrorism, Freedom, Democracy.”

Indeed. Fans of irony will be pleased to note that the current conservative obsession with values has unwittingly latched onto a Nietzchean distinction. Nietzsche was the first to popularize the idea of "values" and to make this idea the guiding paradigm of moral theory. This is a sign of how silly and inane the conservative movement is: it does not even understand that it takes as paradigmatic the greatest enemy of its moral code the world has seen.
posted by koeselitz at 6:32 PM on March 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Funny; I thought that American conservatives had completely embraced the will-to-power concept.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:55 PM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Consumer | Citizen | Taxpayer | Sucker
posted by dirigibleman at 9:18 PM on March 16, 2010


From the Slate article linked above:
Tracy Britton [head of HSBC's U.S. marketing division] explained to me that HSBC caters to a sophisticated clientele, many of whom have interests overseas. The aim of this ad isn't, it turns out, to sell me a Choice Checking account—HSBC has other campaigns touting such products. "Lumberjack" is supposed to reinforce the bank's global experience to customers who own real estate in Belgium, say, or a small business with clients in Cambodia. The loggers and tree-huggers are metaphors, deployed to show that HSBC understands the diversity of viewpoints in the world—which in turn allows the bank to better serve customers in New York and Phnom Penh, alike.
So while we commoners are grasping at straws for meaning and intent, perhaps the "sophisticated" international businessfolk understand right away. Anybody with business concerns in Phnom Penh care to comment?
posted by whatnotever at 11:44 PM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


more here
posted by jtron at 12:25 PM on March 17, 2010


at HSBC we:

1.Take over your bank
2. Downsize redundant staff
3. With the money saved we hire the best ad agency around
4. They produce propaganda saying we are cool


5.profit!
posted by Miles Long at 2:56 PM on March 17, 2010


whatnotever: fascinating. I have a progressive's knee-jerk dislike of megabanks. My partner is an international business man, with interests in, not SE Asia, but Africa and other places. He likes the ads, and says they do in fact make him well inclined to HSBC. Of course, that's completely in the abscence of the kind of information we'd use in choosing a financial institution.

My favorite is the shaved heads. But they forgot "racist redneck homophobe", and "monk" as alternate views.
posted by Goofyy at 12:38 AM on March 18, 2010


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