“Heads of the Major Banks”

Which is more fun to watch, a gangster movie or a bank commercial? In light of the obvious answer, one can only be grateful when a bank commercial presents itself as 30 seconds of a gangster movie-which is what Crescent Bank does in a spot by Brandon Advertising and Public Relations of Myrtle Beach, S.C. For Crescent, whose sales proposition is that it doesn’t charge any fees for checking, it’s a lively way of depicting its fee-charging competitors as racketeers. We see a cigar-smoking heavy (identified by a sign on his desk as “Bank Manager”) tell his assembled underlings that he’s heard Crescent is offering free checking. Ordering one flunky to “organize a meeting with the heads of the other banks,” he’s determined to “stop all
his craziness.” After all, as he points out, “Those fees add up for us!” It’s not what you’d call subtle, but viewers neither expect nor want subtlety in a gangster movie, and that dispensation probably applies to gangster-movie parodies as well. Inevitably, the spot loses some oomph when it cuts away from the mobsters to show us a well-behaved woman explaining that, at Crescent, “free checking is, well, free.” Still, viewers will take in the point (emphasized by an onscreen super) that “Racket-free checking” at Crescent features “No ATM fees anywhere” as well as “Free checks for life” and other such goodies. If Godfather III had included such offers, it might have garnered better reviews.–Mark Dolliver