Adams & Knight’s Patrick Dugan comments on bank TV commercials

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As published in American Banker May 2011

BancorpSouth is in the midst of a small-business blitz: It is training hundreds of employees—from branch managers to commercial loan officers—on how to make sales calls and running a commercial on television and online to let business owners know what it has to offer.

One way the commercial tries to grab attention is by showing the action from an unusual perspective: It’s as if the viewer is looking over the shoulder of someone using an iPad.

In the 30-second spot, the screen starts out completely black. Then, a couple of hands appear and begin clicking and tapping to create images, expand windows and move icons around, much like one does on an iPad.

“All of this ties into touchscreen technology, obviously with the tablets that are out there these days. We thought that was kind of a cool approach,” says Randy Burchfield, director of corporate marketing for the $13.5 billion-asset bank in Tupelo, Miss.

The commercial is one of four in BancorpSouth’s advertising campaign. Each one focuses on a different topic, such as personal banking or wealth management. But they all use the same approach, focusing on a pair of busy hands.

“What if you could create a bank that’s just right for your business?” a voiceover asks in the small-business spot, as a woman’s hand does a quick tap to make a check appear.

A scanner pops up, and she drags the check to it. Accompanying the action, the voiceover plugs “easy-to-use business tools to manage your cash flow, like Express Deposit.”

Then she moves an image of a banker to the center of the screen and clicks a phone icon as if she’s going to call him via Skype. Here the voiceover talks about “a special relationship with a banker, who can make decisions locally, quick and customized for you.”

Stone Ward, an ad agency in Little Rock, Ark., created the campaign. The creative concept, with the hands moving as if operating a tablet computer, arose from the idea of customizing the banking experience, says Lindsey Ingram, an account manager for the agency. “It was like you were playing with a touchscreen tablet. You kind of just pick and choose your photos and you build it the way that you want it, and everything’s simple.”

The high-tech theme has the added benefit of helping the bank appear progressive, Ingram says.

The bulk of exposure for the small-business spot is actually not on television, but online. It appears on sites frequented by business owners, including and

The campaign also includes banner ads that link to a special landing page with short videos about the bank’s small-business products.

Mandy Mitchell, retail banking sales manager for BancorpSouth, says the effort includes specialized training for about 400 employees. In a two-day workshop, they ran simulated small businesses to gain a better understanding of the challenges that owners face. A new phase of the training will focus on figuring out which businesses to pursue and how to get time with the owners.

Patrick Dugan, associate creative director at Adams & Knight in Avon, Conn., says he likes the imagery in the BancorpSouth commercials. “It’s refreshing from the standpoint of you’re not just seeing the typical inside of a bank.”

He also likes that each one uses a different person’s hands and voice to represent various lifestyles. For example, the wealth management spot features a male who is of retirement age.

“I think it is a smart move, because they all kind of look the same,” Dugan says. “The different voices and the different hands sort of help avoid the pitfall of someone thinking they’ve seen that ad already.”

The current buzz around touchscreen tablets works to BancorpSouth’s advantage too, he says. 

Of course, there is a risk that such imagery could start to feel “gimmicky” fast, Dugan says.

“But it doesn’t feel like that now, because I don’t feel like I’ve seen a lot of it.”