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Bank breaches public trust over Moscow ad campaign

by Natalia Antonova at 08/02/2011 16:02

Moscow’s Federal Anti-monopoly Administration has fined National Trust Bank for breaking advertising law – but whether or not anyone will punish Trust for their much-maligned Bruce Willis ad campaign remains to be seen.

According to an official press release by the Federal Anti-monopoly Administration, Trust’s outdoor ads, which featured slogans such as “Deposits – a scarily high profit” and “Lending – it’s not scary” also featured consumer information that was printed in such a way as to appear too small.

According to FAA, this could have contributed to the spreading of misinformation – which is against Russian advertising law. The bank stands to be fined a million roubles for the offence.


Previous convictions

This would not be the first time that Trust has gotten in trouble with the Moscow FAA. In 2010, Trust was fined a total of 600,000 roubles for their ad campaigns.

One ruling was later overturned by an appeals court, but an advertisement featuring three naked young women covered up with the Russian flag found no support among local lawmakers.

Trust’s current ad campaign features action star Bruce Willis – and includes such one-liners as “I’m tough – Bank Trust is tough as well!” and “Trust is like me – only it’s a bank!”

Although the ad campaign appears legally sound, some Muscovites have been annoyed with it. “Would a real tough guy say ‘I’m tough’?” sneered one member of a Russian advertising community. Others proposed new slogans for the Bruce Willis ad campaign, such as: “I’m SUPER tough – now just try to get your money back from this bank!”


Utter nonsense and mixed messages

Some people who regularly get to view the ads on their way to and from work are also not pleased. “The ad campaign makes no sense,” said Maria, a marketing manager who commutes to work along the Garden Ring, which prominently features the ads. “How can a bank be ‘tough’? What does that even mean?”

“Not every Moscow bank can afford to feature a star like Bruce Willis in their ad campaigns,” said a representative of Moscow-based ad agency Mediamaxima. “But most Muscovites want to see banks as dependable – the image of a tough bald guy doesn’t scream ‘dependability’ to me, and I have worked in advertising for many years. The humorous reaction of Muscovites to this ad campaign in part stems from the confusing message the bank appears to be sending.

“Personally, when I first saw the billboard with Bruce Willis, I thought he must be coming to town to promote a new gym or something. It’s not a negative image that the bank is promoting, but it’s an odd one.”

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