Worst TV Commercial Ever: HSBC Logging

So there is a new HSBC commercial I’ve seen twice. I can’t find the video online, but if you have a link, please leave it in the comments. I can’t immagine how this commercial can possibly relate to banking, but I’m open to hear suggestions.

Here’s the summary.

They open with logging protestors being arrested. It’s not disneyland, in fact, it’s fairly dark – at least for mainstream standards. People are yelling and there are protestors being handcuffed with zip ties. As one protestor is being led away she passes a logger carrying some equipment. The protester is visibly upset.

The scene cuts to a jail cell opening and the prisner rushing out. She hurries passed the logger, who apparently bailed her out, and doesn’t aknowledge him. It turns out that they are somehow together and he is giving her a ride home on his motorcycle. She moves her hands from holding the bar behind her to hugging him for support. The narrater says something like “There’s a time to understand that we have to compromise, HSBC.”

I have no possible clue what the message is, but here are a few guesses.

  • HSBC has been helping logging companies. Please don’t withdraw your money when you find this out.
  • When you are finally ready to sell your soul, HSBC is the bank for you.
  • Even if they hate your guts, women will sleep with you if you drive a motorcycle.
  • If you’d like to sellout HSBC is there to help.

Any other ideas?

Edit:

Thanks for the comments and thanks to Marissa for finding the video. This long version is much better and I like the song, but it still makes no sense as a bank commercial, sorry.

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35 Responses to Worst TV Commercial Ever: HSBC Logging

  1. Lisa says:

    Actually, I just saw this ad. The woman says to the logger, whom she apparently knows: “Help me out Henry, huh?!”
    And, actually, you’re wrong. The narrator says: “The more you look at the world, The more you recognize how people value things differently…HSBC, the world’s local bank.”
    I actually kind of liked the ad and wondered what ad agency was responsible for it. And yes, before you ask, I’ve read Ben Bagdikian’s “Media Monopoly” and Jerry Mander’s “Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television”, etc.

  2. FUCK says:

    WHAT THE FUCK THIS COMMERCIAL MAD NO FUCKING SENSE.

  3. Michael says:

    Absolutely the worst tv spot ever — makes the Gates/Seinfeld spots that got pulled look good.

    And by the way, if the woman is saying “Help me out Henry, huh?” then the audio engineer who mixed the spot should get fired since that line is barely recognizable. If they had 60 seconds to tell the story, it might register better.

    In this economic climate, I think a bank would be better served to make sure their message is clear in a spot.

  4. Kanye says:

    This commercial is definitely talking about the ultimate coolness of motorcycles, not to mention chainsaws.

  5. mikesabat says:

    Hey Lisa,

    Four Arguments for the elimination of TV is a good one. I respect your opinion and the ad was well made, I just think that it makes no sense. And it definitely doesn’t have anything to do with banking

    Fuck, Why so mad?

    Michael, I agree with making a clear point about the safety of your money in this climate although the ad was probably produced a few months ago. You know, when logging and anti-environmentalism was cool.

    And yes Kanye chainsaws and motorcycles are sweet.

  6. avatar says:

    They are most likely husband and wife — when the narrator (i.e, the bank) says, “The more you look at the world, the more you recognize how people value things differently…HSBC, the world’s local bank.”, they are saying that they are the bank for everyone, even those who don’t hold the same values.

    It is definitely a weird approach — I’m not sure it’s a believable message because it seems unrealistic that two people who feel so strongly and differently about that subject (logging) would be able to stay together, unless of course you think about James Carville and Mary Matalin who also are married. But it got our attention, which is perhaps it’s main objective.

    It took me two viewings to hear what she said and to realize that the guy at the police station was bailing her out and was her husband (or boyfriend). I would have loved to eaves drop on the pitch when the ad agency made it to the client.

  7. Marissa says:

    http://www.break.com/usercontent/2008/9/Intense-HSBC-Bank-Logger-Commercial-568877.html

    Completely disturbing… is this supposed to take our minds off the fact that their chief executives were on the golf course when the subprime scandal broke?

  8. Caitlin says:

    I like what avatar said. Seems like something either based on a true story (disgruntled wife joins protesters to spite husband), something put together for its flashiness (tisk tisk to the bankers with their iced out brains), or something sort of poorly considered.

  9. Tom says:

    You never know when you might need bail money.

    HSBC — We’re your local, crazy bank!

  10. suc.micok says:

    I hate this commercial. I thought she said are you happy now or something but I still hate it.
    hate the song too. is this to get the McCain votes?

  11. kk.Green says:

    That is my favorite spot!!
    It’s like a mini movie
    It’s so sweet!!
    The wife said “Are you happy now Henry?’
    I think the husband is a hot older guy
    I really could less it’s for a bank
    I could watch it over and over –
    Come on folks have a heart!!

  12. abc says:

    kk. Green, you’re an idiot.

  13. gus says:

    I’ve seen this commercial about 8 times and just realized that logging had to do with the spot and that was due to finally noticing a sign a man was holding that said, “stop logging”. Can’t hear the woman’s audio asking Henry to help her out. I have no idea how HSBC clients went for this. I too would have loved to be a fly on the wall during the initial idea, the pitch and the numerous client meetings that followed. I must say, WTF?

  14. BofA for life (now) says:

    Kudos to hsbc for single-handedly bringing a faces-of-death motif to a mainstream commercial- humans viciously zip-tied, hands behind their backs, chainsaws buzzing… Precisely the imagery I look for when searching for an institution to hold my money. Maybe the ATM will zap and kill me for sport.

    Absolute worst, most offensive commercial ever. Makes me think missing a payment on my CC will result in me being hunted like bounty.

    Seriously- ad execs should be ziptied and thrown in jail without bail or promise of a prince riding in on a white motorcycle.

    This commercial definitively sucks and the only good thing about it is that I found you lot who hate it as much as I do.

    Geez- don’t hold back, tell me how you really feel.

  15. Song says:

    Song is:

    Joanna Newsom – Clam Crab Cockle Cowrie

  16. Shan says:

    I am so glad to see that I’m not the only one who HATES this commercial!
    I was watching it for the 50th time.. and I told my boyfriend .. I have to google this and see if Im crazy or not.. this is the Worst commerical I’ve ever seen! Surely Im not the only one who does not get it.. ha ha…

  17. valen says:

    The woman, who apparently is the logger’s wife ays “Happy Now henry?”.. not “help me out henry”. Henry, the loving husband, dutifully bails her out. As they ride away into the logging sunset, she hugs him and the narrator says “The more you look at the world, the more you recognize how people value things differently…HSBC, the world’s local bank.”. Like Avatar says, they are saying that they are the bank for everyone, even those who don’t hold the same values… but I think it’s not communicating the point. I agree the clip is intriguing, but it’s clearly a creative jerk-off.

  18. anonymous says:

    i wrote the ad….

    thanks for your comments

    the point of the ad is part of our new campaign that celebrates different views on the same subject

    much like the comments here

    best….

  19. bob says:

    after she says “Happy now, Henry?” I hear her scream “selfish jerk!”. Anyone?

  20. mikesabat says:

    hey anonymous,

    thanks for the comment – especially if you really did write the ad. it’s good to take risks, and although i feel you didn’t nail it this time, I hope you do next time out.

    if it matters at all, the ad is well done and evokes emotion. i just can’t see it connecting emotion and banking.

    one very good thing about the ad is that i noticed it was hsbc the first time that i watched.

  21. Jenny says:

    I recognized the song first and was surprised to hear it in a commercial period. Then saw it again but forgot who the advertisement was for. And then when I saw it again I wondered what it had to do with banking. I guess it was effective to some degree but I can’t say it compelled me to look into banking with HSBC…which should be the point, no?

  22. OnSecond says:

    It makes sense for the whole HSBC campaign. They often use “opposing viewpoints” to prove that they have a global perspective on the world and, hence, banking needs.

    Example, they show two pictures of a tribal tattoo. One is titled “Rebel” the other is titled “Traditional.”

    The ad shows a group of forest activists and a group of loggers fighting over a forest. Who’s right? It’s a matter of perspective. HSBC is aware of these polar perspectives and claim they can serve both sides. They probably can’t. But they claim they can.

  23. Emilie says:

    Wow. I just saw the shortened version of this commercial a few minutes ago and finally decided to look it up online (it must have been the eighth or ninth time that I saw the commercial, yet I still didn’t understand it at all…). The extended version makes MUCH more sense and I can see the message, but the shortened version is certainly no good in my opinion.. I don’t see why HSBC bothers to broadcast it, it’s a pretty big waste of money.

  24. lookdeeper says:

    I am not sure exactly what HSBC was going for for this ad.

    Looking deeper into the message I see HSBC showing a man who is doing what he has to in order to live in what could become hard times depending on how things in the economy are handled by the powers that be.

    In other words, maybe this is an ad campaign by HSBC to convince the American people that they are supposed to make sacrifices, including working in professions that they have clearly been enemies of.

    Maybe they are trying to prime hard working Americans to understand and work harder for those that squandered peoples homes, livelihood, and self respect so that a few individuals can enjoy the ultimate fruits of society—those who make so much that they do not care if they lose a little.

    For small minds, this is a smart ad campaign, delving into the American ideal that if you work you will be rewarded, in this case not materially, but in the light that those who have more moral scruples might understand your decisions for supporting a losing battle.

  25. Nat says:

    Is this commercial on TV yet? I’ve just seen the longer version on the internet, but I’m curious to see what was left in the shorter version.

    Yes, I do admit, it is confusing how the
    commercial relates to a bank, however, I do like it. There is so much happening, but I wish we could see more.

    I read the initial sides for this ad and it read like a whole film scene. There was lots of dialogue for the Police Chief, Lumberjack, and Protester. It made a lot more sense there, but there’s only so much you can squeeze into a 60sec commercial eh? It would be great to see it the way it would have been if they had been able to follow the script. I think the only line that sort of made it in, was the woman saying “How could you?” I think that’s what she’s saying anyway.

    Anyway, artistically I like it. Good job to those who worked on it. Still only a loose connection to the back though.

  26. Jesse says:

    Me like ad Lookdeeper! Me like me like!

    Pretentious twit.

    It’s a pretty short that’s way more interesting than anything actually promoting banking policy.

  27. Mark says:

    Been seeing the :30 sec. version on TV here in Japan for months and I also hate it because I can’t understand the premise. Are they married? Father and daughter? An ad that cannot be understood and generates questions about the meaning, is not effective advertising.

  28. Jes says:

    I haven’t seen the shorter version? Is there a version of it anywhere? Does it have the protestors waiting about? Little girl, glasses man, girl standing and looking out? Bear?
    Yeah, I only saw the longer version. It’s confusing already and must be even more confusing in short.

  29. jvanhala says:

    this may be the best commercial on tv right now

  30. reagan says:

    I like it!

  31. here4penance says:

    i LOVE this commercial… everytime i see it, it gives me chills…..

  32. here4penance says:

    matter fact, the WORST one, is where Brooke Shields saya: “Please don’t put a baby in your belly just to put German engineering in your driveway”.

  33. tearesse says:

    does anyone know where to find the short version seen in japan?

  34. Mike says:

    I thought she said “Ya happy now Henry, huh?”.

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