2015 Holiday Marketing Efforts from the Top-20 U.S. Banks

The end of the year provides a unique challenge to banks. Customers are busy buying gifts, finishing year-end projects at work, and preparing for holiday travel, meal prep and/or extended family time. There isn’t an abundance of deep thought about long-term financial plans, other than how to pay down inflated December credit card bills.

For banks, it’s a good time to run a few simple messages:

  1. Thank customers for a great year
  2. Wish them happy holidays and/or a wonderful new year
  3. Help customers deal with holiday overspending and planning for the new year
  4. Provide last-minute gift assistance via prepaid MasterCard/Visa cards
  5. Detail holiday branch hours and service options (extra credit for an online/mobile banking plug)

This is not a tall order, yet only 9 of the 20 largest banks managed to do even 1 of the above 5 during the week leading up to Christmas. While that may not seem like a great performance, it was more than double the measly four last year. And it’s back in line with historical norms of 9 banks 2013; 8 in 2012; and 10 in 2011. It looks like 2014 was an anomaly.

Congrats to PNC Bank, which once again, proved it was the holiday champ thanks to its long-running 12 Days of Christmas Index, earning a full 5 bulbs on our 1-to-5 light bulb scale. Runner-up Key Bank moved up to an impressive 4-bulb performance with four holiday promos. And we had three 3-bulbers (Fifth Third, BMO Harris, Union Bank) who posted impressive holiday graphics.

The scrooge list: Top-20 banks with no holiday promotions or graphics on 23 Dec 2015:
Bank of America; Bank of the West (BNP Paribas); BB&T; Capital One & Capital One 360 (formerly ING Direct); Chase (note 2); Citizens (RBS); HSBC; SunTrust; US Bank; Wells Fargo; Zions Bank.

Following is a quick overview of the promotions, including a 1- to 5-bulb rating.

Previous year-end holiday posts: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 (big banks), 2011(CUs/community banks), 2009 part 1, 2009 part 2, 2007, 2006, 2006, 2004.

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Large U.S. banks show holiday spirit

PNC Bank

Score: imageimageimageimageimage

Homepage (23 Dec 2015):

pnc_holiday2015
PNC Christmas Price Index page:

pnc_holiday_2015_2

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Key Bank

  • Checking account promo with holiday imagery (1 of 3 rotating promos)
  • Security tips related to holiday spending (2 of 3 rotating promos)
  • Rewards promo with holiday image (lower left on homepage)
  • Credit card promo with holiday copy (lower right on homepage)

Score: imageimageimageimage

Homepage promo #1 (23 Dec 2015):

key_holiday2015
Homepage promo #2:

key_holiday2015_2

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Fifth Third Bank

  • Page-dominating “wishes”

Score: imageimageimage

Homepage (23 Dec 2015):

53_holiday2015

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BMO Harris

  • Community service announcing a Milwaukee holiday display (#2 of 3 rotating promos)
  • Security message related to holidays and its new chip card (#3 of 3 rotating promos)

Score: imageimageimage

Homepage promo #1 (23 Dec 2015):

bmoharris_holiday2015

Homepage promo #2:

bmoharris_holdiday2015_2

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Union Bank

  • Rose Bowl parade float (#1 of 4 promos)
  • Billpay offer with charity tie-in (#2 of 4 promos)

Score: imageimageimage

Homepage promo #1 (23 Dec 2015):unionbank_holiday2015
Homepage promo #2:unionbank_holiday2015_2

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Comerica

  • Gift card promo integrated into main image (promo 2 of 3 rotating)

Score: imageimageimage (2.5)

Homepage (23 Dec 2015):

comerica_holiday2015

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Regions Bank

  • Loan discount with holiday copy (well below the fold)

Score: imageimage

Homepage with loan offer (23 Dec 2015):

regions_holiday_2015
Landing page for loan offer:

regions_holiday2015_2

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TD Bank

  • Checking account promo with holiday imagery and Samsung giveaway (main promo)

Score: imageimage

Homepage with checking promo (23 Dec 2015):

tdbank_holiday2015

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Citibank

  • Year-end home-equity promo with winter imagery

Score: image

citi_holiday_2015

 

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Notes:
1. Observations taken between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. Eastern Time on Wed, 23 Dec 2015, from a Florida IP address, running Mac Chrome browser with cookies cleared.
2. Chase is running a series of newish articles/posts below the fold, one of which covered holiday budgeting. But it wasn’t prominent enough to move them off the scrooge list.
3. Animation from
http://www.millan.net/anims/christmas.html#

Holiday Website Promos at the Top-20 Banks

In my annual look at holiday offerings from major banks, I found that Scrooge still roams the halls at many of the big names. Only eight of the 20 largest U.S. banks are using holiday-themed promotions or graphics (note 1). That’s one more than last year, but still two less than 2010.

As usual, PNC Bank is the exception with their two-decade long holiday CPI (Christmas present index). BB&T, Comerica and Fifth Third are also festive this year with gift card promotions supported by seasonal graphics. And US Bank, Citi, Key and Regions Bank used some holiday imagery.   

The scrooge list: top-20 banks with no holiday promotions or graphics on Dec. 20): 
Bank of America, Bank of the West (BNP Paribas), Capital One, Chase, Citizens (RBS), Harris Bank (BMO), HSBC, ING Direct (Capital One), SunTrust, TD Bank, Union Bank (Mitsubishi UFJ), Wells Fargo

Following is a quick overview of the promotions, including a 1-to 5-bulb rating.

Previous year-end holiday posts: 2011 (big banks), 2011 (CUs/community banks), 2009 part 1, 2009 part 2, 2007, 2006, 2006, 2004

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Big banks in the holiday spirit
(rated 1 to 5 bulbs; screenshots from Thursday, Dec 20)

PNC Bank

  • Gift Hunt tied to its Christmas CPI (based on the song 12 Days of Christmas)
  • Visa Gift Card promo (in rotation of four homepage promotions)

Score: imageimageimageimageimage

Hompage: PNC is leading with its 12 days of Christmas price index

image

PNC Bank microsite with gift hunt link

image

Also running gift card promo in rotation

image

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BB&T (20 Dec 2012)

  • Holiday themed graphic featuring mobile check deposit
  • Small ad for gift cards

imageimageimageimage

image

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Fifth Third

  • Rotation of three holiday themed promotions
    — Holiday billpay sweeps
    — New Years savings pro
    mo
    — Gift cards

imageimageimageimage

image

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Comerica

  • Prominent gift card promo across page and in lower-left corner

imageimageimageimage

image

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Key Bank

  • Holiday graphic, but no product promotion

imageimage

image

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Citibank

  • Toy shopping background image

imageimage

image

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US Bank

  • Pitch for online banking, convenient while shopping

image

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Regions Bank

  • Small saving money tips

image

image

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Notes:
1. Observations taken between 2pm and 3pm Pacific on Thurs Dec 20 from Seattle IP address, Chrome browser with no cookies
2. Animation from http://www.millan.net/anims/christmas.html#