‘More Human Interest’ Stories From WAMU

LOS ANGELES Washington Mutual continues its message of “More human interest” in two television commercials from Sedgwick Rd.

The 30-second spots address free checking and customer respect and are meant to connect with consumers who identify with feelings of being ripped off and ignored by their banks.

One spot, “Pickpocket,” shows a man opening a “technically free” checking account. A guy in a suit reaches into the customer’s wallet and pulls out some money. The perky blond bank teller informs him that it’s “Just Bob” who is “assessing check card fees.” A woman then takes money out of the customer’s wallet, and the bank teller explains that those funds are for his monthly account fee. The spot ends with the voiceover, “Uncomfortable with your bank’s idea of free checking? Come to Washington Mutual and get more human interest.”

Another ad, “Runaround,” has a man waiting in line at the bank. When a bell dings, signaling a teller’s availability, he heads over to her station, only to have the woman slam the window closed. This happens several more times as two security guards viewing the scenario on a security monitor laugh. The voiceover: “Maybe it’s time to switch to a bank that gives you the respect you deserve.”

“The spot shows what customers expect when they walk into a bank,” said Jennifer Exoo, vice president and account director at Sedgwick Rd. in Seattle. “We want them to know that all banks aren’t like that.”

Both spots retain the tag, “More human interest,” which the Seattle-based client has used since 1999. Spending on the effort was undisclosed. Washington Mutual spent nearly $90 million on ads last year, according to TNS/CMR.

Ads are initially running in California and Florida, during sports programming and shows such as 60 Minutes, The Practice, Everybody Loves Raymond and Friends. The campaign will roll out to other markets later this summer.

The creative director for the effort was Steve Johnston. Copywriters were Forrest Healy and Steve Payonzeck, and Dave Sakamoto and Zach Hitner handled art direction.