AdTurds Bad Adverts – Badverts

28Apr/1613

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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8Mar/152

Halifax Adverts – The Year Of Giving Extra

halifax adverts

Halifax is giving us extra - these Halifax adverts prove it. You give extra every day (unless you're on the dole, retired or generally useless - or really shit at your job) so you deserve extra too. Access to your own money, advice on pledging hundreds of thousands of pounds to your bank, that sort of thing. To help us understand these notions, Halifax has a roll-call of unlikely-yet-wholesome archetypes.

Oh, Laura Smith – air hostess in excelsior. Ferrying small bags of sick to an airline bin, holding kids while their parents have a dump and getting £125 for swapping her current account to Halifax.

Mark Watts – playing footy with the nippers and showing us that modern Britain is demographically heterogeneous before going to try and get a mortgage as a first-time buyer. Good luck with that.

Gavin Yates – lifting a stegosaurus and being the middle-aged fat bloke in our series of adverts.

Linda Turner – looking as happy wielding that massive drill as she would be flying a Eurofighter.

Paul Knowles - Stupid Dad.

It's interesting that Halifax isn't showing us small-business owners in this set of adverts, because it's exactly small businesses that were targeted by parent-company Lloyds in selling complicated and baffling interest rate swaps, in order to drive profits.

So complicated, baffling and unnecessary that investigations suggest that the financial safety of some small businesses could have been jeopardised as a result.

Small businesses such as that owned by Vicky Harris – snapper extraordinaire. Strapping on some waders and blow-drying a dog. Getting a hundred quid for swapping a current account to Halifax and maybe an interest rate swap to go with her loan too. That's certainly extra.

Anyway, the ubiquity and fundamental annoyingness of these Halifax adverts means they've eventually penetrated my radar. My thoughts on bank adverts are well-documented – this one specifically is one of the more annoying currently on screens. That being said I recently switched my current account to Halifax for the £125. Considering everything they've put us through, I think it's the least they can do.

Halifax adverts

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