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Are B of A Ads Sneer-Worthy?

Now playing in heavy rotation: Billy Idol’s Rebel Yell. No, it’s not 1983, and I’m not talking about the radio playlist. 22 years later, Bank of America has tapped the British rocker and his Top 10 hit referencing the Confederate battle cry of the US Civil War for their latest ad campaign. The connection? Somewhere, an art director or copywriter decided that leveraging the song’s mantra “more, more, more” would be a fantastic way to bring to life the brand’s Preferred Rewards that give customers “more more more” from their bank. OK, it’s a pretty easy sell, especially if the bank is going after GenXers who grew up shaking it to Billy’s sneering face on MTV (back when MTV actually aired nothing but music videos). So does the concept work in execution? Let’s take a look.

First, we have the ever-cool Idol re-recording his anthem in the studio, presumably for use in the commercial, as suited-up, nerdy B of A execs look on:

In the next spot, said bank execs – now identified as the Marketing Department – listen to the recording with the 80s rock star:

Over-the-top campiness and stereotyping abounds…Idol sneers at the bank reps’ ridiculous suggestions as they try to further shoehorn in the connection between the singer’s “more more more” lyrics and their bank offering more (more more). He plays it perfectly, first ditching their directives in studio by actually leaving the studio, then by disdainfully saying “no” to their request in the follow-up spot.

Yes, it feels forced. Yet seeing Mr. Idol stay true to his persona, refusing their requests (despite the fact that we know he is actually playing along – and getting paid – by being in the spots), puts enough fun into the campaign to make it worth watching. And for those of us who grew up screaming along to Rebel Yell, White Wedding, and Dancing With Myself, seeing that famous sneer in a bank commercial is unexpected…and smile-inducing.

I wonder how many who see the spots will then hop over to YouTube to see this?

~ Denise Blasevick, @AdvertGirl & CEO, The S3 Agency


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