RBC disses TD - Comparative advertising is coming

OPM 1 min read

I saw this ad some months ago by Royal Bank (RBC) that I found quite novel: the bank directly attacked one of its competitors. Although this wasn’t done by name, the target is obviously a bank that likes the colour green, ie TD Bank.

Is this a new trend? Is this another way Donald Trump is changing society? In my recollection, big banks never publicly targeted each other like this. I even remember reading that not talking about competitors was on the professional code at Goldman Sachs. (That is, the old Goldman…today, Goldman and its senior employees have on several occasions been ensnared in criminal accusations).

Comparative advertising or “attack ads” have a longer history in the burger wars. I recently saw ads by Wendy’s that directly criticized McDonald’s for its’ use of flash frozen burgers. As competition gets ever more intense in the business of other people's money, I expect this will be more frequent in finance as well.

In every field, professional jealousy is rampant. I have never met a construction pro who doesn’t claim that he does great work, but his competitors are crap. And in the investment field, no active manager believes in active management, except his own. In finance, people bash each other all the time, they just do it privately.

I am all in favour of this trend - the customer benefits from a vigorous, no-holds-barred mud fight.

Plus it’s so much more entertaining. You are lying if you don’t say that politics has gotten way more interesting because of Trump. Will bank CEOs one day insult each other on Twitter using Trump-like expressions like “Stone Cold Loser”? I can only hope.

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