ASA slams bank ads in open and shut case

The Advertising Standards Authority has upheld complaints about NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland’s TV ads which promised to continue to provide banking services where they are “the last bank in town.”

A NatWest ad and an RBS ad which aired last June claimed that the banks would “continue to provide banking services wherever we are the last bank in town”.
The Campaign for Community Banking Services challenged the ads on the grounds that the claims were misleading and questioned whether they could be substantiated.

It believed in at least one place, Farsley in Yorkshire, NatWest had closed a branch despite being the last bank in the town.

It 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 but 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 both complaints. The ads must not be shown again in their current form.

Essential IFA managing director Peter Herd says: “Unless the ASA is able to hit the big banks with a fine for breaching the advertising rules, I wonder whether the firms involved are going to take any notice.”