Barclay’s show risk of “sponored entertainment”

One of 2010's most bizare bits of brand activity is Barclay's bank use of series of dance contests to celebrate the roll-out of fresh new look for its bank branches. "Barclay's Live" Heats in seven UK cities select the best local dance
act, with
winners going on to the national finals.

According to Marketing, "The initiative is intended to tap into the recent success of a rash of
TV talent shows such as the BBC's 'So You Think You Can Dance'."

Screen shot 2010-05-18 at 18.10.59
Now, new branches are a good idea, if done well. Just look at how McDonald's new shops have played a key role in rejuvenating the brand and business.

But, sorry to be blunt, "WHAT the BLOODY HELL has a dance contest got to do with new bank branches?!"

Answer: absolutely bugger all.

This is a classic example of what we call "Sponsored entertainment". Entertaining communication that is paid for by the brand, but does little or nothing for the brand in question. 

Furthermore, just look at the picture above of one of these events. Is this really the sort of marketing you want to see from a company you're supposed to be trusting your life savings with? Or borrowing money from? Seems to me to strike completely the wrong tone of voice. Its Barclay's band-waggon jumping to try and seem like they're in touch with "the people".

T-Mobile also used a dance-based campaign, but to much better effect, as I posted on here. The campaign in question was linked to the brand idea of "Life's for sharing". First, the dance in question involved people sharing the dance moves with each other. Second, the reaction of people seeing such an event is to text, call and take video with their phones. Also, the whole T-Mobile execution was way much more dramatic and buzzable. This is shown by the comparison in YouTube views:

T-Mobile Dance: 2 million views in first week

Barclay's Live Launch: 160 views

Oh dear.

In conclusion, this is a load of old bollocks. Sorry. Seriously, ensure all your marketing is branded, and not sponsored entertainment. And ensure any campaigns bring to life your brand personality. Finally, avoid band-waggon jumping.