Santander goes to war over Nationwide attack on high street banks

By John Mercury February 9, 2024

Santander UK has filed a formal complaint with advertising watchdogs over a Nationwide campaign which “discredits and denigrates” Britain’s high street banking industry.

Sky News has learnt that the Spanish-owned lender has told the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that the Nationwide television commercial – featuring the actor Dominic West as an arrogant bank boss – is misleading about its rivals’ approach to closing branches.

The complaint was filed during the autumn, soon after the building society campaign launched, according to insiders, but has not been publicly disclosed.

The ASA has yet to adjudicate on it.

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It is relatively unusual for British banks to formally complain to the ASA about each other, and is far more common in industries such as food retailing, where the big supermarket chains have often objected to pricing claims made by competitors.

City sources said that a second TV ad from Nationwide would air in the coming days that would be “even more pointed” in highlighting the suggestion that banks have little regard for their customers.

Dominic West in the Nationwide campaign.
Pic: Nationwide
The complaint over the advert centres on the banking sector’s approach to closing branches. Pic: Nationwide

British banks have closed thousands of branches in recent years amid declining usage among customers, but Nationwide – the country’s biggest building society – has pledged to keep its network intact.

The ASA declined to identify Santander UK as the complainant but said: “We’ve received a complaint about this ad from Nationwide.

“The complainant argues that the ad is misleading around other banks closing branches, and discredits and denigrates its competitors.”

Santander and Nationwide both declined to comment.


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