Can’t Buy Me Love.

If you want to sell something for your business, advertise your product.

If you want to raise your business’ profile or change someone’s opinion of your business, advertise your brand.

Most businesses need to do the former a lot more often than the latter.

But every now and again, a brand campaign is just the ticket.

Nevertheless, no matter how ethereal it might, at times, feel (especially if you’re paying for it), a brand campaign does need to have something to do with who you actually are; it needs to be grounded in what you actually represent.

So what, I found myself wondering this week, is Santander doing sponsoring London’s ‘Boris bikes’?

Ask yourself the following questions of the hard-to-miss deal, now that we are several months into it:

Has it changed your opinion of Santander?

Has it made you want to become a customer of Santander?

Has it made you consider buying a Santander product, now or at some point in the future?

For me, the answer was no.

And no.

And then, finally, no. (As it was with Barclays too, for what it’s worth – though they got a little bit of kudos for being ‘first movers’).

I could be in a small minority, of course. Maybe lots of readers of this piece have just answered yes, yes and yes. And there’s a chance, I suppose, that lots and lots of people really want to take advantage of Santander’s cash-back scheme that apparently operates if you pay for TfL using one of their cards.

But, even if that is all true (which it probably isn’t) is it enough to justify the reported seven million quid a year the bank pays for the privilege?

They obviously think so, and good luck to ‘em.

But I can’t help thinking, to paraphrase a bit of far superior financial services advertising from a few years back, that TfL are laughing all the way to the bank.

Monticello LLP