If you’ve been in an airport or subway station the last ten years, you’ll probably recall the ad campaign from HSBC, with its message that golly gee, we are all individuals from different cultures and everyone’s got a different view of things, so let’s not be judgmental.
Here are two samples:
Of course, in its recent $2 billion settlement with the Department of Justice — a sum that represents six weeks of its 2011 profits — HSBC admitted to laundering money for the Mexican and Colombian drug cartels and for terrorist organizations. So it’s no wonder they take a liberal approach to “values.”
Terrorism and the drug trade.
In Pakistan and Yemen, the US president dispatches drones to blow up presumed terrorists, and their families, and their neighbors. In the drug-exporting nations, low-level smugglers and their random acquaintances are being murdered by military death squads. In the US, executives at charities accused of helping to finance terrorism have received multiple life sentences.
At the bank of terror and drug money laundering, HSBC, no one is worrying about drones overhead, or even an indictment on their admitted crimes. The government is afraid to punish them because of the possible impact on the markets, and the domino effect among other big banks, some of whom are doubtless involved in the same business. They are too big to fail. (Also, let’s admit it, they’re white people, more or less. And British.) Although the DOJ settlement establishes that these crimes were committed for many years, no one at HSBC is supposed to face any criminal charges. No one is being fired. No bonuses or salaries are being cut, although a few bonuses have been deferred. Deferred!
In that spirit, here’s a draft for a new HSBC ad campaign. Let’s not be judgmental!
UPDATED! The client asked for a less subtle approach, so that everyone gets the message:
Please use the above instead of the earlier version, and feel free to pass it on. Or, if you’re better at Photoshop than I am — you probably are — make your own version. HSBC is very proud of their “thought provoking” ad campaigns, and yet their US profile is relatively low. Let’s give them a viral push. Let’s make sure everyone knows who they are.