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Halifax Top Cat Advert Disaster

It's very much in keeping with modern times that mortgages are advertised by a stray animal that is famous for living in a bin. If you think about it that's where lots of people mis-sold unaffordable mortgages pre-crash probably ended up. But I'm in two minds as to whether this Halifax Top Cat advert is intentionally riffing on that idea or not - and whether it's a good thing even if it is intentional.

top cat advert halifax

Halifax has created a bit of a niche for itself over the last 15 years by deliberately undermining the idea of banks as being stuffy and officious. Going right the way back to Howard the dancing manager - via adverts that suggested all the Halifax staff were running radio stations - this is a brand that has been desperately signalling "I'm mad, me" like the office twat laughing at a Crazy Frog ringtone.

But is this Halifax Top Cat Advert really what we want from our banks? Isn't it quite a good idea if you're not perceived as a bunch of wankers in such a financially insecure world? Wouldn't it be better to suggest that Halifax are quite careful about who they lend significant fractions of a million pounds to?

top cat halifax advert

Who knows. These days we seem happy to spunk money left, right and centre and listen to politicians tell us that we can have whatever we want as long as we let businesses dictate the way we live.

I have a bank account with Halifax, because they offered the largest cashback for transferring a bank account. And for no other reason. And the first time I tried to use it - to pay in two £50 notes - I had one of the most surreal experiences of my life. Here's how it went:

AdTurds: Hello, can I pay these £50 in to my account please?

Halifax: No, we can't do that.

AdTurds: Why not? Aren't they legal tender?

Halifax: Yes, but we're not allowed to bank them.

AdTurds: What am I supposed to do with them then?

Halifax: You have to take them to the Bank of England.

AdTurds: The Bank of England... in London?

Halifax: Yes.

AdTurds: The Bank of England on Threadneedle Street in London? I have to physically take them there to bank them?

Halifax: Yes.

AdTurds: No. There's no way that's true. You must be mistaken.

Halifax: No. You have to take them to the Bank of England.

AdTurds: ...

Halifax: Let me check. There may be a branch in Warrington (checks computer). No, London's the only place you can take them.

AdTurds: Can I speak to someone else? I mean no offence, but you're clearly wrong. I mean, the internet. Telephones. No way do you physically have to transport bank notes to the capital city to be able to bank them.

Halifax: I'm sorry but that's how it is. I can write down the address for you if you want...

And at that point, realising I'd walked into a scary John Carpenter film, I slowly backed away from the counter, wondering if the shutters were going to come down and the Halifax staff would immediately attack me with knives and start feasting on my brains. I went to the bank I've always banked with, NatWest, and asked if I could pay in my fifty quids. Here's what happened:

AdTurds: Can I pay in these £50 notes please?

NatWest: Yes.

Not a blink, not an upwards glance, not a beat missed. No 'you have to go to a place 250 miles away at a cost far in excess of the value of these notes'. A simple yes. Perhaps we deserve the services we get. Perhaps if we choose to bank with someone on the basis that they give me a tenner more than someone else I deserve the kind of idiotic advice I got over that fifty quid.

halifax top cat advert

This Halifax Top Cat Advert tells us everything we need to know about our glib, brainless and wilfully idiotic relationship with money. An easy-come-easy-go, on-tick, never-never lifestyle that is our reward for being total dicks with money for the last 30 years. It's a Tory government advert; a Noughties and Tweenies Britain advert; a thoroughly stupid advert that, for some reason, thinks a bad Phil Silvers impression that was originally a parody of an army-set 50s American sitcom is a good framing device for selling mortgages.

Then again, this is a bank that has repeatedly had its knuckles rapped for a variety of issues. Perhaps we really don't care about how badly our banks behave, as long as they package it all up in a stupid advert.

Maybe a mangy conniving cat that lives in a bin and his dimwitted apprentice really are the best mascots for Halifax. A bank apparently run by - and for - stupid people.

Watch: Halifax Top Cat Advert

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  • Bryan Scott

    Can someone explain to me why Top Cat calls Benny “gay”? …as in his opening line, “oh, gay Benny!”

    • AM

      ‘OK Benny.’

  • Timski

    So Halifax would lend indiscriminately, without running a
    credit check, to a street gang leader with no visible means of support enough to be able to afford a compact and bijou three-storey town house. There’s hope for me yet! I’ll be in first thing tomorrow morning…

  • Max C.

    Still better than what Mexico did twice.

    • hardjackson


      • Max C.

  • Onmebike

    Jings, I thought it was only me that got involved in surreal, baffling arguments with Halifax counter clerks.

    I went to cash a cheque using the nice cheque book they had kindly given to me for use with my new account.
    Turning their nose up at crisp cheque number 001 I was told they no longer accept cheques drawn for cash, even their own cheques on my account, I could, however use the Debit Card in the cash machine.
    Unhappily that had yet to arrive so I pleaded with them to cash the cheque.
    Alright, they grudgingly conceded, as long as you guarantee it with a cheque card, yeah that’s right, the one that hadn’t been delivered yet!

    Back then to my old bank, pay 001 into my account and withdraw cash from the reserves I had luckily left in there.

    Still they have plenty of loot to produce stupid Adturds featuring a crooked cat that no-one under 60 remembers and I had 002 to 030 which after closing the account came in useful in an appropriately turdish fashion.

  • xavierp

    Is Top Cat really a relevant character to use for any advertising in the UK in 2016? It’s not as if it’s a current character or one with any significance like, say, Thundercats. It was always run in the out of the way slots when I was a kid. If I were in charge of spending advertising money for the Halifax my first question would be “why would a 20 something listen to a cartoon that last ran before they were born?”

    • hardjackson

      Yes that’s another baffling element here. How long since Top Cat (or Boss Cat) was regularly on British television? 20 years?

      • Paul LJ Catlow

        The only people who will remember will be fifty-somethings. Feelgood factor for nostalgia? So are they going here for the affluent remortgage/equity loan market – a guaranteed banker?

      • Sam Hamer

        More like ten, I remember it was on BBC 2 before something like the Munsters or Laurel and Hardy. Brilliant stuff.

        • hardjackson

          No way is it only ten years since those shows were regularly on a mainstream channel.

          • AM

            TC was being shown as recently as 2005 on BBC and on Boomerang even later than that. Thundercats on the other hand I haven’t seen anything of in decades, but then I was never into it quite as much. My only memory of it was having a stinking cold and using a basin of Vicks.

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