All the bankers are furious, and can’t understand why the National Bank of Serbia and the Association of Banks are silent

Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian

Source: Politika

Banks in Serbia are struggling in vain to show they are socially responsible and that they help kindergartens, buy equipment for hospitals, finance the Food Bank, help refugees to start their business, build children’s parks, sponsor sporting events – for most citizens they are skinners who are playing do-gooders with the money they took from them. And not only are they skinners in the eyes of their clients, even one of their own painted them in such light – their colleague, or rather their competitor.

Direktna banka (Direct Bank) presented itself to the public with a campaign in which they announce that they don’t ‘ride’ their clients, they don’t ‘shear’ them or ‘pluck’ them. In every piece of advertising an animal is used that goes with the mentioned term. In free interpretation of the campaign, other banks’ clients are horses, sheep and chickens. The bank announced that they have no hidden costs, they approve loans in the shortest time (in a single day) and they don’t charge the annual loan servicing.

The owners of the Direktna banka are Andrej Jovanović and Bojan Milovanović, and the bank was formed by merging Kragujevac-based KBM Bank and Findomestic Bank, after they acquired them. To the public, they are also known as the owners of the Marbo factory that produces snacks, which they later sold. Two years ago, together with the Mid Europa Partners investment fund, they bought the Dunav hrana grupa, which includes the companies Imlek, Subotica diary, Bambi, Knjaz Miloš, and they are also the owners of Mediagrupa.

If this duo wanted their bank to become recognizable through this provocation, they undoubtedly succeeded in that. Everyone is talking about the campaign “We don’t sheer, pluck, ride.” It was condemned by part of the expert public, and has angered the bankers.

Žozef-Ivan Lončar, founder, owner and editor-in-chief of the Taboo magazine dedicated to the world of marketing, and honorary member of the International Advertising Association, assessed the campaign of the Direktna banka as the “advertising blunder of the century”.

In a post on Facebook he wrote that “few advertising campaigns in this century have humiliated the profession and its employees like this one.” He added that the bank is using elements of unfair market competition by insulting its competitors.

Another culprit, according to Lončar, is the advertising agency: if it accepted the idea of the client, it shouldn’t have done so. If the agency is the author of the idea, it’s even worse. The agency should have warned the client that they don’t want to participate in their unethical behavior, regardless of how adamant the client was in using the idea, or how much they paid it.

As the third, and perhaps the greatest culprit, Lončar calls out the media: they should not have accepted the publishing of this campaign at any price. Since the majority of the media is in the hands of foreign owners, they should have just thought if this would be allowed in their countries, and how badly sanctioned they would be.

The fourth culprit, who could have been the harshest critics of this nonsense, are the clients of this bank: citizens or companies. This campaign directly offends their intelligence, no matter at what level.

The banks don’t want to publicly comment on the campaign of the Direktna banka. They say that all the bankers are furious and they don’t understand why the National Bank of Serbia and the Association of Banks are silent.

“The offer of the Direktna banka for cash loans is the same as the offer of all other banks. Same interest, same procedures. By no means have they given a more favorable offer through which they could claim that they don’t ride, shear and pluck their clients. They stated that they don’t charge a fee for annual loan servicing, which is not charged by any, or at least 99 percent of banks,” one bank said commenting the campaign.

Banks have been building their image for years, explaining that money has its price, listing what is included in the interest rates in order to explain to clients that they are not formed on a whim, only to collect more profit. Where does the negative campaign end? Will the next one be finger-pointing at competitors saying they are more expensive than them? These are the questions asked in other banks.

The Direktna banka is extremely pleased with the effects of the campaign, and they say that client’s asking for loans are pouring in. Dragan Lazarević, president of the Executive Board, said that they just wanted to note that they are a fair and efficient bank because they give direct answers.

“We didn’t think that in our ad we should have a mom, a dad, a sister, a grandmother or a grandfather who are happy because they are paying off a loan – because that’s hypocritical. Research shows that a visit to the bank is equally stressful to the clients as a visit to the dentist,” Lazarević said.

The marketing agency Hominid Studio, which created the campaign, said they were glad that the media were interested in this topic and that the campaign did not go unnoticed. They didn’t want to comment any further.