HSBC may have dropped the tagline 'The world’s local bank', but the sentiment remains alive and well in their latest campaign under the new brand promise 'Together we thrive'.
The multinational bank has peeled back the wrapping on its new airport campaign, which will be displayed across 1500 air gate bridges and 94 kilometres of walkways in airports from Hong Kong to London to Dubai to Los Angeles to Sydney and many others around the world, reaching 900 million passengers per year.
The campaign is expected to include more airports later, but aligning the launch for the first time at 17 global airports simultaneously was enough of a challenge, said HSBC’s group head of marketing, Leanne Cutts, sighting security issues, restrictions on colours and materials, and the difficulties in ensuring the displays wouldn’t melt in Dubai heat or crack in frigid Canadian winters.
“When we were planning the brand refresh, [the airports] were always going to be a central part of that,” Cutts told Campaign at an interview in Hong Kong, explaining that the bank’s 17-year relationship with airports is still considered to be one of their key media assets in this digital age, while the brand hexagon remains a key creative asset.
Central to the campaign, developed by Saatchi & Saatchi, was assigning local creative in each market to reframe HSBC’s iconic hexagon in local settings, reinterpreting what 'Together we thrive' means to local communities.
The result was the creation of 300 different hexagon images, 79 of which were chosen to appear across airports. Global themes like sustainability, prosperity, infrastructure and trade were opened up to local interpretations involving food, landmarks and history. Hong Kong created a dim sum hexagon next to others involving Victoria Harbour’s skyline and greenery while Singaporean hexagons included chili crab and flying kites, for example.
“For me this was a great example of having a core creative asset that then local markets could flex and say ‘this is what it means to us,'” said Cutts.
“This for us is actually a great model for the work we want to continue to do where we have a great global framework and then we get a lot more combinations of different things and people see what’s happening in different markets and go ‘I’d love to have that in my market’. It ends up with a lot more cross-pollination, which is much more interesting frankly,” added Cutts.
‘Together we thrive’ is a good example of that. It is derived from the bank’s colloquial name “Wayfoong” in Cantonese, with its characters translated to mean “an abundance of remittances”, as noted in a Campaign UK interview last month. Cutts says it was here in Hong Kong where they had some of those initial conversations about what prosperity meant to a community and how it could best be described.
“This is our home, this is part of who we are. So it does connect quite strongly to the community here in Hong Kong,” Cutts said. “We like to do things that celebrate our heritage and rootedness in different places but also look at what is different about [each] place and what have we brought to that geography.”
Of course, banks these days are constantly at risk of appearing too stodgy by looking back at heritage instead of looking forward, particularly in Asia where digital commerce leads the world. So dispersed among those hexagons of old Hong Kong harbor and the Singapore historic shophouses are futuristic ones depicting a digital highway and blockchain ledgers.
These, Cutts explains, are used a lot in HSBC’s conversations with trade and corporate customers with their own special messages. “They say we’re rooted in supporting our customers. That’s today, tomorrow and into the future.”
Airports where the campaign will appear
1. Hong Kong International