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05/02/2014 Comments (25)

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NatWest’s recent TV advert featuring twin sisters delivered a refreshing take on customer diversity. Here’s the story behind the screen.

The same, but different? NatWest’s Cashback Plus TV advert presented viewers with an identity-splicing montage of two sisters living parallel – yet entirely unique – lives.

The advert was developed with the help of the bank’s Rainbow Network, which works for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual) equality in the workplace, and includes a relaxed depiction of one twin’s same-sex relationship.

“We wanted staff to feel proud of this,” says Rhidian Taylor, Head of Brand Management for RBS and NatWest, who was closely involved in the ad’s creation.

“For me, it was about being inclusive and doing the right thing. Ultimately we’re a brand that likes to reflect the real world in all our advertising – this was the right opportunity to show a same-sex couple in a way that wasn’t tokenised or patronising.”

Full spectrum

To bring the advert to life, Rhidian’s team held a series of focus groups with the bank’s Rainbow Network to help steer the campaign and ensure a balanced, considerate reflection of our customers.

Michelle Pratt, the Rainbow Network’s global co-chair, took part in the discussions. She says: “The feedback was unanimous – we all wanted to see LGBT representation in advertising, but we didn’t want a ‘gay ad’. I was one of several people who asked if we could focus on the ‘L’ in LGBT, which quite often gets forgotten.

“To know your feedback has been listened to is fantastic,” says Michelle. “The network was very pleased with the advert – we’ve had some great comments.”

Rhidian continues: “As we were developing the ad we shared the script with the Rainbow Network for further input. It was very important to us that they supported what we were doing and how we were doing it, to get the tone right.”

All walks of life

The importance of the advert lies in its everyday depiction of diversity. Playing on the obvious symmetry between the twins, it celebrates difference and reflects the bank’s proactive and unprejudiced support for customers from all walks of life.

“This is about making a statement to staff and customers, gay or straight, that we’re an inclusive company,” says Rhidian. “We’re putting our money where our mouth is by showing that in the most public way possible.”

As well as receiving customer praise online, the TV ad was even nominated for Best Advert at 2013’s Stonewall Awards. “The Stonewall nomination made me realise that the LGBT community really valued what we’d done,” says Rhidian. “I was exceptionally proud that NatWest was held up as an example to other advertisers.

“How often do you get to come into work and play a small part in changing history?”

PROUD TO BE RECOGNISED

NatWest’s advert prompted a positive response on Facebook. The personal feedback from one viewer brought home its impact:

“Hello. I wanted to pay my gratitude for your twin advert. I’m a lesbian and very rarely feel represented in the media in an everyday setting. It’s so important – society is changing and the media has a great influence in making that change to acceptance. We have progressed and now a change is coming again – thank you for being a part of it.

“You are the type of people I want representing me. I may even pop to a NatWest on the weekend and set up an account! Every day I see that advert it brings a tear to my eye and hope to my heart. People may not go to the effort of writing to you but you DO make a difference. You make that closet for some a little less dark and isolating.”

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