we are not an island

We Are Not An Island

Interview with Chris Pitt

Chris Pitt, Head of Marketing at HSBC  will be our speaker at Under The Spotlight event on 2 March.

Chris is the mind behind 'We Are Not an Island' - the campaign got lots of people talking, mainly about the way it steps away from the conservative approach of banks. The campaign has put HSBC at the centre of a cultural moment, highlighting a bolder marketing process.


Talking to Chris Pitt...

Considering your recent campaign is very culturally relevant – what do you think are the sociocultural factors that affect marketing?

Relevance to a target group of customers is essential to the marketing of any business. It is easy to be relevant. The magic is being relevant to your target customer, at the same time as representing your brand or business in a way that is true to you i.e. don’t over claim to be something that a brand or business is not. HSBC activity is centred in the values of the business – Open, Connected and Dependable. The latest activity has dialled up the open and connected values in communication. Being open and connected in a world that feels like it is closing down is relevant and potent to HSBC target customers.


Can you tell us three key notes about ‘We are not an Island?’ campaign?

The ‘We are not an Island’ campaign has three key building blocks:

  • Together we thrive. It is aligned to and reinforces HSBC’s strapline in a way that feels relevant to the UK.
  • Requires no decoding. It is a metaphor but requires no explanation. Gets to the point.
  • Breadth of meaning. It is a ‘big’ idea allowing activity – specific messaging and media to be built underneath it. It has worked equally well in external and internal communication.


What kind of challenges did you face in this campaign journey? (Any new ones you’ve not previously faced?)

Banks are conservative organisations. This campaign has seen a number of firsts. TV advertising featuring a celebrity (Richard Ayoade) and was set in the UK. Posters are copy based and feature no pictures. Activity talks to the brand rather than product. All of these required careful internal ‘navigation’ to get approved and the business engaged.


We're looking forward to hear more about Chris's work at Under The Spotlight.