ING Direct Canada - TV Commercial Ignites Social Outcry

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22 January 2013
Jacob Jegher

ING Direct Canada recently launched a new marketing campaign in order to promote RSPs (Retirement Savings Plan). The campaign includes a TV commercial that depicts someone suffering from anxiety and depression during RSP season. The commercial has resulted in a rash of negative comments and complaints (see ING's Facebook page below) alleging that the commercial is inappropriate as it pokes fun at mental illness. I noticed only a handful of online users that have no problem with the advertisement, with one Facebook user saying, "Are you serious? I'm sorry, but people get offended *way* too easily, nowadays. And this is coming from someone who has dealt with a mental illness for more than half their life."

ING Direct Canada is a very social media savvy institution. Their CEO is a frequent Tweeter and they regularly leverage social channels for marketing and promotions. Given the public outcry, they are now faced with a social media crisis and it will be interesting to see how they deal with it. Their social media skills are about to be put to the test. ING Direct announced earlier today that the TV spot will be pulled.

How do you think banks should deal with social outcry? Yes, this is about to become yesterday's news but it still needs to be dealt with. Financial institutions can learn a lot from this situation, as banks are regularly bashed in social channels. It's important to know how to listen to and engage with the public and also send out the appropriate messaging. Please weigh in with your thoughts and opinions.


  • My sense is that they have taken the appropriate approach in that they have acknowledged the public reaction, apologized for it and removed the offending media.

    I think that in this case, it was pretty easy and probably won't amount to a true crisis.

    I think the real challenge around this kind of thing is when a company is criticized for something they have intentionally done (or not done) and want to continue traveling the same path. In my area, we have few choices around what Internet Service Provider we can use. Checking the Facebook page of one of them leads into a series of accounts of service disruption reports in specific areas where one can hypothesize they aren't investing because of low population density. All they can really say is something along the lines of "Please call our customer service line at...." because they really have no intention of addressing the issue. Folks in downtown Portland on the other hand are dealt with differently. It doesn't take long to see through this as a consumer.

    When you can change course as a result of the feedback, the results are less likely to incur a crisis. When you can't, you're left with messaging in a suboptimal situation.

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