We’ll probably never know how long Engine "parked" the idea of using Ant & Dec, a pairing the agency optimistically thinks sounds "a bit like" Santander, to front its new campaign for the bank.
Presumably, it was for a very long time but – some might argue – probably still not long enough, judging by the very mixed reaction that the 90-second "Bank of Antandec" has already received. While some newspapers have cynically and selectively picked the most negative ones, a glance on responses to the sponsored post on Twitter gives a broader representation. In fairness, there is a smattering of fans (including in the Campaign team).
Billy Faithfull, Engine's executive creative director, describes the moment that someone noticed the, erm, comparison between the names of the duo and the bank as "an absolute gift". He continues: "It was one of those ideas that you keep parking for good reason, but keeps coming back, more powerful than before." The "good reason" in that quote suggests that any alternatives may have been significantly underpowered.
Keith Moor, Santander’s outgoing chief marketing officer, adds: "The concept behind the campaign and its speed to market is testament both to the power of a great idea and the synergy between the duo and the bank." The relationship between Santander and Engine has indeed been a lengthy one – it inherited the business from Havas Worldwide, which also produced an unforgettable oven-ready turkey for the brand, before losing the business to WCRS. And the "speed to market" line is intriguing in itself.
Whatever. Its more vociferous critics may be disappointed to discover that the Santander and Ant & Dec tie-up is a multi-year partnership. So we’ll probably have to get used to the unfeasibly weak wordplay if Santander perseveres with the "Bank of Antandec" idea, which includes amusing imaginary initiatives played out by the light entertainers they say will help people with their finance.
But at least they will surely be grateful that the person/people at the agency responsible for noticing the "similarity" between Santander and Ant & Dec hadn’t noticed a similarly tenuous likeness between Santander and, say, pomme de terre, or soupe du jour, or Anton Rodgers, or Where Eagles Dare, or Saint and Greavsie – or, indeed, a multitude of other things it still doesn’t sound much like.
Jeremy Lee is contributing editor at Campaign