March 15, 2008

Giving Banks a More Human Face

Banks are riding the wave of a strong Brazilian economy. The news of Banco Itaú's net profit of US$ 4.8 billion last year up 96% - an all-time record in Brazil - generated lots of press and blog buzz. Great news for financial institutions... but there has also been a rather negative sentiment in the general population towards banks and the government's policy of high interest rates. No wonder there are so many banks using advertising campaigns to talk about initiatives on social responsibility and the environment. Banco Real, for example, was the first bank to position itself as 'green' many years ago. Bradesco - the country's largest private bank - launched a massive campaign communicating its position on sustainability. Many banks are following the same strategy.

In a country where banks are setting record profits, the question becomes how can they give back to the communities in which they serve and differentiate themselves from their competitors?

A good example has been
HSBC and how they are investing in cultural marketing. Movie fans in São Paulo have been enjoying the HSBC Belas Artes Movie complex for years. In Curitiba, the bank has Teatro HSBC, a space for performing arts. The big news is that later this month, the bank will be opening the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro and the HSBC Brasil venue in São Paulo. The show that will open both venues is Seal. What a fascinating opportunity for HSBC to use these spaces for experiential marketing their clients, as well as, create a more human face for the bank.