Joyful Halifax ad anticipates end of lockdown with second phase of 'It's a people thing'

Halifax: ad conveys sense of both nostalgia and optimism
Halifax: ad conveys sense of both nostalgia and optimism

Absence of masks and social distancing is a deliberate move in work by NCA.

Halifax has launched the second phase of its “It’s a people thing” campaign, which aspires to a feelgood future with no social-distancing restrictions – as the UK waits for a final decision from Boris Johnson on the possible end of lockdown restrictions, which had been slated for 21 June.

The ad, made by New Commercial Arts, follows an older woman as she leaves her home and returns to normal life. She walks down a bright, bustling market street, which is positioned as the lifeblood of a community, with a Halifax branch at its heart. 

After people-watching as she wanders through the sunny market, buying flowers and waving at Halifax employees along the way, the woman stops at a memorial bench on which she places her flowers.

Soon after, her grandchild runs into the scene and embraces her, conveying a mood of nostalgia and then optimism.  

Richard Warren, director of marketing communications at Halifax parent Lloyds Banking Group, said: “The next ad in Halifax’s ‘It’s a people thing’ campaign is all about our customers getting back to what we’ve all missed more than anything – family, friends and community.”

The campaign, which launches on TV, out of home, press and social, was created by an NCA duo, copywriter Loriley Sessions and art director Charlotte Prince. 

It was shot by directing duo ThirtyTwo, who are Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace, and produced through Pulse Films. Media planning and buying was by MediaCom. 

Although the work was shot in a Covid-compliant way, the absence of masks and social distancing, as seen in recently shot TV and film work, as well as other ads, was a deliberate move. 

Ian Heartfield, creative founder of New Commercial Arts, said: “We chose not to show masks as it would have taken away from the humanity and joy of the film. 

“This film is a broad representation of society having more freedoms than it did in the winter. It’s more a celebration of the arrival of summer and life outdoors than anything else.”

Set to the sound of Oasis’ 1997 track, Stand by Me, the ad is designed to reflect an optimistic mood as people look towards normality. 

There is a hint of nostalgia and the 1999 Richard Curtis movie, Notting Hill about the ad, but although Heartfield acknowledges this, he says it “wasn’t intentional”.

“’It’s a people thing’ is all about reflecting the lives and times of Halifax customers. So, as it's finally summer, and life is finally returning to our streets, that's exactly what we focus on and celebrate in this second campaign,” Heartfield said.

Halifax launched its new brand strategy ‘It’s a people thing’ in February 2021, with an ad that led viewers down a single UK street.

It was the brand’s first work with NCA, after being appointed to the Halifax account by Lloyds Banking Group in June 2020 two weeks after opening and at the expense of Adam & Eve/DDB, the former agency of NCA founders James Murphy and David Golding. 

Murphy and Golding first won Halifax in 2011 before their first start-up, Adam & Eve, merged with DDB.

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