Strangest Bank Testimonial Ever? The Very Real ‘Crystal Barn’ Talks Chakras and Card Readers

Barclaycard and Droga5 London feature an odd business with serious growth

The Crystal Barn's owners sell real crystals, in a real barn. Barclaycard
Headshot of David Griner

Banks love to feature small-business clients in their ads, but these often fall into pretty safe and predictable categories like bakeries, bicycle shops or fashion boutiques.
So when British finance company Barclaycard and agency Droga5 London were looking for the best entrepreneurs to feature in their new longform spot, they went with an … unexpected choice.
The Crystal Barn in Kettering, England, is not your usual small business—nor is this your usual small-business ad. They sell a wide range of crystals that some believe to be imbued with special restorative properties. While the owners could have given a straightforward pitch, Droga5 instead decided to let them have some fun and ramble a bit about everything from balancing chakras to the very detailed driving directions that will get you to their expanding collection of barns and crystals.

It’s an enjoyable and surreal spot with an applaudable message: that businesses off the beaten path deserve financial and business-growth support as much as the cupcake shop down the street (and, let’s face it, The Crystal Barn is going to outlast just about every other small business you’re likely to see in a testimonial spot).
“Barclaycard treats The Crystal Barn as seriously as any other business,” says Clare, one of the owners. “If our card reader isn’t working, most customers can’t buy their crystals.”
Perhaps most importantly, the ad helps Barclaycard stand out from the litany of other financial ads that come and go without having anything interesting to say or show—much less to remember.
“Most bank advertising strategies seem best described by a ‘boring fog of awareness,'” says Jeff Low, director of the spot. “They want to be everywhere but don’t really want to be noticed in some way. To have an idea like this and move a brand like Barclaycard into somewhat outrageous territory is no small feat.  I’m lucky they included me.”

“Most bank advertising strategies seem best described by a ‘boring fog of awareness.' They want to be everywhere but don’t really want to be noticed in some way."
Jeff Low, director

The spot is part of a larger campaign called We Take Business Seriously, which the client says “showcases the diverse range of real businesses that we work with.”
In a statement about the campaign’s launch, Barclaycard says, “We’re proud to partner with ambitious businesses of all kinds, and look forward to shining a light on more of our customers.”
As for The Crystal Barn, they were already winning new customers from the ad even before it was done being produced, which is a good sign that it’ll give the growing business a marketing boost.
“Despite the majority of us being nonbelievers in the power of crystals before we met Andy and Clare,” says Rupert Reynolds-MacLean, managing director of production house Biscuit U.K., “most of the production team—including the director and producer—ended up buying crystals from The Crystal Barn before the end of the shoot.”
We’re told the director was advised not to sleep with his crystal too close to his bed at night, because it is “very powerful.”

@griner David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."