YS picks: our top Financial Services marketing campaigns

8 February 2021 6 min read
Reading Time: 6 minutes

While the Financial Services sector may  typically be considered a ‘low interest’ category , alongside other industries such as insurance, energy, banking and law, at YS, we believe there’s no such thing. There is, and always has been, a significant opportunity for businesses in these sectors to cut through the noise – by pushing the boundaries and taking the creativity of their marketing to the next level.

On top of this, in a world of uncertainty as well as much of the same, people want to feel good and be entertained, and there’s no reason campaigns from the Financial Services industry can’t contribute to this. When done right too, the result can certainly be cut-through attention and ground-breaking growth. 

Expanding on this thought, our team has pulled together some of our favourite Financial Services campaigns over the past two years, analysing the strategy, creativity and results in an attempt to spark some inspiration for those wanting to supercharge their marketing in the FS space this year. Plus, why not also read our five essential marketing activities for Financial Services businesses to consider in 2021.

Paypal: Little Wins 

When the pandemic first arrived, disrupting communities and families across the UK, Paypal saw an opportunity – to shine a light on the tangible solutions its payment platform offered. Normal payment options, such as cash and credit/debit cards, were considered risky. Paypal wanted to demonstrate that their platform was not only a safe payment alternative, but also a brand which could offer tangible solutions to people’s most unexpected needs. 

With this in mind, they conducted some research and assessed their data,paying attention to how their customers lives were being disrupted by the pandemic. From the eldery who couldn’t do their shopping to families with kids in need of round the clock entertainment, people were struggling. Paypal wanted to show they could offer solutions, while making it upbeat, fun and simple. The final campaign was centred around the ‘Little Wins’ which consisted of three essential phases: helping people fix immediate challenges; demonstrating how PayPal products can bring people together; and establishing new habits. The key message? To show there was ‘emotion in every payment’. 

The results were astounding. An ROI of more than 55:1 was calculated and 21 retail categories saw between 10% and 377% increases in PayPal usage.

Recall, purchase intent, clicks, engagement and open rates for the campaign all increased. People also started using PayPal in retail categories, something that  would have been unimaginable for the business just a few months prior to the campaign.

Our takeaways

Paypal’s ‘Little Wins’ campaign is a fantastic example of how combining cold hard data with empathy can pay dividends. In a time of uncertainty, they offered their customers solutions based on emotion and empathy, as opposed to just transactional practicalities. Data is one of the great advantages of being a payment platform – using this research to inform your campaigns will ensure high-impact and enable you to make real differences to your audiences’ lives. 

Churchill: Churchill’s Little Chapters of Chill

You may have noticed Churchill Insurance’s latest rebrand focused on bringing a more relatable and reassuring approach to the sector. Part of this shift was to show they understood the difficulties faced by young families. 

Noticing a rise in UK children’s anxiety and stress levels, the company knew it could help by advocating mindfulness and bringing the Churchill brand to life to deliver the message. A key insight was identified: chilling out kids in the backseat on the way to school (a perfect average window of 11 minutes for them to practice mindfulness).

In response, they launched their first 5 episode podcast ‘Churchill’s Little Chapters of Chill’. To maximise reach they put spend behind paid social, video ads, static ads and thumbnails were created, translating into 204 social ad variations running for a month.The podcast was listened to more than 54,000 times, as well as being charted number 1 in Apple Podcasts’ Kids & Family chart. It reached the top spot for branded podcasts in the UK on Apple Podcasts upon its launch, and achieved first place in the Stories for Kids category.

On top of this, the series was picked up and used as a mindfulness resource by schools, councils, libraries and the NHS.

Our takeaways

There’s no denying the genius behind this campaign. Determined to break the marketing rules of the insurance sector, Churchill tapped into a whole new audience by providing a resource that made a real impact on young families during an otherwise difficult time. You may expect this sort of campaign to be more associated with a charity or foundation, but Churchill decided to step out of their comfort zone – to connect with their audience on a deeper level – and it proved worthwhile. 

Direct Line: Film 4 sponsorship 

British Insurer Direct Line’s sponsorship campaign with Film 4 had to be next on our list. It’s well known that insurance is a hugely competitive category which is combined with the added challenge that 56% of in-market customers have no first choice provider. On top of this, marketers have the added barrier that people don’t like talking about insurance or the problems they resolve. Direct Line’s marketing team were determined to find another route in. 

Their research found that while their audiences weren’t keen to talk about insurance, they did love movies. Could they use movies to get the UK talking about insurance? Films included an abundance of disasters that could potentially make people think twice about the value of insurance. 

Building on this insight, they allocated a major share of budget to TV sponsorship instead of bolstering its traditional TV budget. Careful media placement ensured 61 clips were lined up with well-known insurance-related events in movies, for example when a house was destroyed in Home Alone, the next ad break would feature Direct Line dealing with the same scenario. As a result, the TV ad was now a contextual and reactive campaign ensuring an immediate emotional connection with the film and advert. 

Four months in, the campaign had successfully shifted key brand performance metrics, with perceptions that Direct Line was a top choice insurance provider up by 37%. The results were even more impressive amongst young adults, with consideration for its strongest competitor, Aviva, falling by 38% amongst viewers. The campaign also delivered exceptional business results, breaking even in long-term ROI for the most competitive product in the category. 

Our takeaways 

This campaign is a brilliant example of a Financial Services brand freeing themselves of category constraints. In fact, shifting so far away from the usual mould enabled the Direct Line team to inject fun into insurance advertising – not an easy task  – whilst not losing out on performance and business objectives. The most important question: If you’re struggling to get people to talk about the problems you solve, what unexpected channels/places can you use to slot in your messaging?  

Lloyds Bank: Crossword Clues 

How do you encourage older (generally more affluent) customers to switch to your digital services? A common challenge for marketing leads in the banking sector, and something Lloyds have managed to crack with their latest campaign, focused on encouraging older customers to download and use their app – keep reading,  it’s genius. 

Looking for the places they are most likely to find their older audience, they identified that older people spent a lot of their time enjoying crossword puzzles. With this insight, Lloyds partnered with this audience’s preferred paper, the Daily Telegraph, with the aim to run 10 ‘crossword clue’ ads that highlight the app features. The thinking was that this would educate the readers and boost their confidence to try the app. 

The campaign delivered some fantastic results, with 65% of readers agreeing the campaign was informative and grabbed their attention. The majority acted after seeing the ads, with 56% visiting the website, 51% learning more about the app features and a huge 44% downloading the app – a huge win considering the audience they were working with. 

Our takeaways 

This truly is a great example of the power of targeted marketing. Not only were Lloyds’ elderly audience engaged by the campaign, they appreciated the appeal to their intellect. The reality is, with older customers, digital marketing channels will not always show results – mixing ads and editorial can pay off. 


There we have it – our top marketing picks from the big names in the Financial Services sector over the past year. There is ample insight to take form each and every one of these campaigns. The overarching lesson? No matter how ‘boring’ or ‘low-interest’ your category or service is perceived to be , if you select the right channel and message to reach your target audience, it’s possible to completely transform the momentum of your marketing efforts. 

Whether it be pushing your message out in crosswords for the eldery, films for young adults or podcasts for families, there’s so many ways you can get creative with your marketing budget. Our financial wellbeing – serviced through payments, insurance companies, pension providers and digital banking platforms – is an integral part of each and every one of our lives. This gives marketers the ultimate gift to get creative with their brand messaging and target their campaigns to so many different audiences. 

We’ve been fortunate enough to work with some of the most exciting Financial Services business, in the South West and across the UK. If you’re a growing business in the space, looking to supercharge your marketing this year, we’d love to help.

Get in touch.