Danske Bank has withdrawn imagery of protestors from the Occupy movement from its new advertising campaign after widespread criticism.
The bank recently launched a high-profile advertising campaign, entitled “New Standards”, that attempted to show the new world we lived in. It featured a range of imagery that included amputated athletes, children using iPads, solar panels being installed in Africa, and protesters throwing stones at the police.
The campaign was launched to coincide with the bank’s new strategy in which it hopes “to restore trust in the bank and ensure that we live up to our new vision of being recognised as the most trusted financial partner”.
They added that the campaign was supposed to show that “the fragility of the financial markets, continuing globalisation, energy and sustainability have all become permanent issues that no one can ignore.”
But the bank’s use of an image of a man with a dollar bill taped across his mouth with ‘#OCCUPY’ written on it sparked international outrage.
“Many have criticised us for using images that depict the Occupy Wall Street movement in our new campaign,” the bank stated in a press release. “That is why we have decided to remove the images from the campaign. It was not our intention to offend anyone, only to show that the world is changing and that we are changing with it. We have only used the images in order to illustrate the criticism directed at the banks after the financial crisis.”
The bank faced widespread criticism for using the image as it seemed to undermine the fact that the original #OccupyWallStreet movement was driven by outrage at the irresponsible risks taken by the banking sector that contributed to the global financial crisis.
One commenter on Danske Bank’s Facebook page wrote: “Hello, bankers, do you think we are going to belive that you are a socially aware business rather than one driven by profit? And do you think we have forgotten that as part of the banking industry you are one of the world’s super villains?”
The advert made its way to the US, where the website Buzzfeed, a highly recognised website specialising in viral content, called the advert “shameless”.
“It would – maybe – feel less hyper-hypocritical if Danske presented some evidence in this TV ad that it is not like every other financial behemoth in the world,” the website stated. “Because, right now, it just looks like Danske has done nothing but make a pretty, outrageously meaningless commercial.”
Even financial daily Børsen joined the choir, with a columnist writing that the campaign weakened the bank’s integrity by aligning itself with global movements it did not evidently support.
“Danske Bank is riding on the back of the hard won gains achieved after years of hard work and risk-taking by handicapped athletes and solar panel makers. Danske Bank makes it appear as though they part of the same hard-working and risk-taking community. But they are not. On the contrary.”
With websites mocking the bank's "New Standards" message, many identified an incongruity between the advert’s message and the actual direction the bank was taking.
On the one hand, the bank aligns itself with the struggles of ordinary people, but in an effort to increase their profits they recently announced that they would close many branches in smaller towns across the country and lay off about 3,000 employees by 2015.
While the bank justified the move by arguing that the prevalence of online banking meant there was less need for actual branches, an article on Kommunikations Forum suggested the bank was simply behaving the way any profit-orientated businesses would.
“[The bank’s] neo-liberal and shareholder focus is kept any price, even at society’s and the customer’s cost. Like [Republican presidential candidate Mitt] Romney the bank does not care about the lower 47 percent of their customers because they are bad business,” the article stated.
“That is why the bank’s campaign cannot involve the 99 percent without it ending up as a new standard for hypocrisy. “
The final word came from a video by #Occupy supporters.
“Your bank grows richer as poverty and inequality are growing,” the video states. “Bank directors are getting great bonuses but ordinary people cannot afford mortgages because of the bank bail out.”
The video added: “We hope you are happy with your bank bailouts just remember who paid for them.”