Is honesty one of HSBC’s big brand values?

These U.K. HSBC spots from JWT London that focus on “integrity” and “responsibility” are gorgeously filmed, but they’re so achingly ironic and hypocritical, they make my head spin. Yes, HSBC has refused government bailout money, but the firm is now cutting 6,100 employees, yet still managed to find $1.67 billion to bid on ING’s private banking business. Meanwhile, the bank holds forth on the topic of social justice in ads that show a paparazzo and fisherman who “do the right thing.” It must be comforting for the C-suite suits to see their gold-tinted vision of reality reflected back at them during commercial breaks. Would they spike the photo of the year or toss back the first big catch in weeks, if it meant losing a ton of money? Of course not. Would you? Integrity and responsibility begin with honesty, something these ads sorely lack.

—Posted by David Gianatasio

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New Yorkers more subdued than usual in HSBC’s soapbox clips