Women don't need an apology from 'Mr Banker', they need one from NatWest

Women have to deal with a lot in 2019. Our pay doesn't always accurately reflect the work we put in, tampons are unfairly taxed and no piece of clothing has anywhere near enough pockets.

Don't use any big words now, they might go over my head, scoffs Emily Goodbrand Dillon
Don't use any big words now, they might go over my head, scoffs Emily Goodbrand Dillon
And sometimes, on an otherwise ordinary Thursday, a brand puts out a campaign so ill-judged it makes you put down your Stylist and cradle your head in your hands.

NatWest, surely we have suffered enough.

Of course, companies in 2019 need to have a social conscience. Today’s consumer wants to know that when they part with their money, business understands its social responsibility and acts as a positive force in society.

But, as comms professionals we know that this responsibility isn’t something that can be taken lightly.

A good CSR campaign needs time, attention and a genuine understanding of the issues.

What NatWest has created with their ‘Mr Banker’ campaign is an almost textbook example of how not to do CSR.

Firstly, if you’re going to do a campaign looking at how banks can better support women, perhaps choose an issue that actually affects them.

Case in point: Women are routinely discriminated against when trying to secure a business loan, significantly impacting the number of female entrepreneurs and female-led small businesses.

That’s a genuine issue brought about by a historic lack of respect for women in financial spaces.

What certainly isn’t an issue is women becoming so flustered by the financial language used by men in banks that they feel unable to talk about money.

That’s patronising. And no amount of cash-in-flower-bouquet imagery or shameless co-opting of suffragette colours is going to make it less so.

Don’t use too many big words, though; they’ll go right over my head.

Emily Goodbrand Dillon, account manager at Third City 

To add insult to injury, for a campaign that claims to be about using clearer language, the copy is pretty tough to understand.

It took me a couple of read-throughs to wrap my head around whether the ‘Message To All Women’ was meant to be taken seriously or if it was an ironic meta-commentary on how brands speak to women.

Imagine my disappointment when I figured it out.

Ultimately, what’s so disappointing about this campaign is it takes us back to a time that I thought we’d moved past.

A time where brands felt it was enough to have a campaign centred around the vague concept of ‘women’s issues’, instead of actually considering what those issues are in reality.

NatWest has learned the hard way that if you play the bumbling banker character, that’s who you’ll become.

Associate your brand with a hundred years of women being sidestepped in conversations about money and that’s how you’ll be viewed.

We can do better than this.

What I’d love to see is NatWest facing up to where they’ve gone wrong here and starting an actual conversation about how they can change the dialogue around women and money.

Don’t use too many big words though; they’ll go right over my head.

Emily Goodbrand Dillon is an account manager at Third City 

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