How HSBC unified the banking sector to fight domestic abuse

The bank galvanised the wider financial sector to raise awareness of the damage caused by economic abuse, driving consideration in the process.

HSBC Financial Services MW Awards 2023
Source: HSBC

Financial abuse is typically an unseen issue. Abusers deliberately create financial instability to make their partner dependent, controlling every aspect of their life.

Yet despite its all-encompassing impact, economic abuse fails to be properly understood by the British public. Seeing a space to drive real change, HSBC worked with charity Hestia to specially train 4,000 employees and turn its branches into refuges. Customers and non-customers were offered help, including advice on how to open a secure bank account.

The creative focused on how money is used to trap people. Consulting Surviving Economic Abuse and Hestia, HSBC devised the campaign line ‘When an abuser controls your finances, they control you’ to summarise the problem.

Using the metaphor of a puppet on strings, the campaign launched with a special build that saw actors tied to a billboard in London’s Spitalfields Market. Further OOH placements appeared in high-dwell locations such as bars, gym changing rooms and motorway services.

An ad riffing off the puppet metaphor aired on video-on-demand and social media during the 2022 FIFA World Cup, while addressable VOD via Channel 4 signposted viewers to their nearest HSBC branch. Audio ads on Spotify and radio used voice manipulation to warp the voice of a woman explaining her approach to money management into that of her abuser.

Not only did HSBC see a 1,400% increase in visits to its financial abuse webpage, the bank also inspired other financial service providers to raise awareness of the issue. The campaign also drove a 4% increase in consideration for HSBC, helping the bank win the 2023 Marketing Week Award for Financial Services.



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