David Blecken
Mar 19, 2018

SMBC shows empathy for Japanese graduates

The bank presents a human side with a video about endings and new beginnings.

A new campaign by Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) taps into the bittersweet season of graduating and entering the world of work in Japan.

Every spring sees university students say goodbye to the carefree life they have known for the past three or four years and embark on their first job. SMBC’s short online video features three winners and finalists of actual university pageants, from Keio, Waseda and Tokyo universities.

The work casts the young women as friends preparing to part and start their new phase of life. It aims to convey the complex mixture of sadness, unease and excitement that people generally associate with that period, and presents SMBC as a reliable partner for those making their debut in the big wide world. As part of its promotion, it is offering debutants a 5,000 yen incentive.

Campaign’s view: While some might find the scenario rather cutesy, the work does a good job of presenting emotions many will be able to relate to. It also helps make the bank itself relatable, which surprisingly few banking ads do at a time when traditional financial institutions are under considerable pressure from the world of fintech.

SMBC didn’t explain exactly why it selected these three protagonists, but the contests were obviously an important factor. Feelings about beauty contests aside, it’s a good thing that the work features actual students/graduates and not the usual rotation of celebrities. We’d like to see a version that male graduates are likely to identify with too, though, otherwise the whole thing seems a bit asymmetrical.

Campaign Japan

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