The Advertising Standards Authority has upheld a complaint against two NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland TV ads over promises to continue to provide banking services where they are “the last bank in town.”
Complaints were made to the ASA after the ads were aired last June. The ads claimed the banks would “continue to provide banking services wherever we are the last bank in town”.
The ads were challenged by the Campaign for Community Banking Services on the grounds that the claims were misleading and whether they could be substantiated because it believed that in at least in one place, Farsley in Yorkshire, NatWest had closed a branch despite being the last bank.
The CCBS also challenged whether the claims misleadingly implied RBS would retain branches and opening hours, as they were aware of some places where RBS had substantially reduced opening hours or replaced branches with a visit from a mobile bank.
RBS admitted it had closed the Farsley branch. However it said the commitment was to continue to provide “banking services”, not necessarily to keep all branches open.
It also argued it did not believe the ad implied it would maintain its opening hours.
The ASA upheld the complaints on both grounds.
The ASA says: “We considered that the claim in the ad would be interpreted to mean that NatWest would not close a branch where it was the last one in its immediate locality.
“Because the ad stated that NatWest would continue to provide banking services if it was the last in town and because we understood that there was a town in which they had not done so, we concluded that the claim was misleading.”
The ASA also ruled while RBS provided the same services through its mobile banking service, there was an “important distinction” between a branch and a mobile bank.
It therefore concluded the ad was misleading. The ads must not be shown again in their current form.