Posted by: splosher | 01/04/2010

HSBC’s Integrity & Responsibility: What a load of old Bank…


With the vast corruption and continual bonus-greed rife within the Banking world during the last couple of years, our Capitalist masters have now decided to give themselves a publicity makeover in the hope of garnering our lost confidence. This development can only mean one thing: our weary eyes assaulted on a daily basis by newly-devised TV adverts, keen to sell us the same old themes of trust, assurance and dependability, only with a fresh lick of monetary sheen in order to divert our gaze from the real issues. Yes, it’s just another imagining of the old street-corner “cup and ball” trickster routine from eons ago, their hands swirling in a blur to confuse and fleece us of our hard-earned cash, regardless of whether we are aware of this illusion or not. Accompanying this brazen financial deception is the now socially-acceptable mantra, “Greed is good”; uttered by the main protagonist, Gordon Gecko, in Oliver Stone’s masterful Wall Street (1987), we all have these words ringing in our ears on a daily basis now as we’ve become governed by wanton thrusting, jealous grasping and unbridled selfishness, all unavoidable side-effects from stoking the insatiable furnace of Capitalism.

We all slouch with a post-recession torpor at the moment, surrounded by vast, moribund figureheads from our financial past, gulping their last breaths down before succumbing to the changing World Market economy of 2010: Northern Rock has collapsed and is currently being propped up by the taxpaying British public to the tune of around £30,000 a person; last year, the global powerhouse that is Barclays Bank posted a record low for its shares, losing around a quarter of their worth and resulting in billions of pounds wiped off; and now the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) have been fined by the Office of Fair Trading £28.6 million for competition breach. We are being told continually that the country’s now out of the worst and things are looking bright with credit-crunch spending restrictions in place, although the sunglasses haven’t been handed out just yet: indeed, as we stumble around in the coffers-free murk, scratching about for dropped coppers much like a Chicken scratting in the dirt for an overlooked kernel of corn, there really doesn’t appear to be any confidence in the banks at all.

Enter the saviours of all that is monetary-based across our TV sets, each approaching the problem via unique “confidence-boosting” tangents aimed at society’s little niches. So, we have Barclaycard scraping the nostalgia barrel by showing commuting morons using waterslides and roller-coasters attached to the outside of buildings in major cities, all accompanied to classic Rock music; then there’s NatWest’s campaign to bolster the “real people” who help them function, from the mobile banking vans that arrive in desolate places to take peoples’ money – much like Snake Oil salesmen of old – to the printers who make their slop-stained booklets of greed; and then there’s Halifax’s cost-cutting exercise which reveals the inner workings of their supposed zany “Radio” station with its kooky and eclectic mix of tossers, twats and tools manning the microphones and polluting the airwaves with their mindless, shit-shovelled drivel.

The accumulated amalgam of defecation those examples represent must wait for a later blog entry however as we explore the worst offender currently, HSBC. Across their latest ad campaigns, which are entitled “Integrity” and “Responsibility”, we see HSBC’s insistence that all of us possess the inherent goodness intrinsically found within Humanity, regardless of what the financial burden is to the individual in question. This epiphany is explored via two 30 second tales of soul-searching dross so inanely insulting that after being subjected to multiple viewings during commercial breaks, you’ll hark after buggery rather than indulge in another nanosecond of the contents of their spilt colostomy bag narratives.

 

The first advertisement – entitled “Integrity” – shows a camera-laden Paparazzi following a celebrity named Alex in the hope of getting the ultimate shot no other photographic bush-rustler has managed to attain during the day. We see the burgeoning pressure begin to take its toll on our camera-toting cretin’s face and mount as the hours tick by as he’s elbowed out time and time again from the selfish-gene pool of predatory flashers. With nothing to show for a full day’s stalking except worn soles and prostate trouble, he follows his quarry on his scooter, his obsession obviously growing to dangerous levels we see him disembarking and lurching into the nearest woods. Finally our man gets the picture break he’s been waiting for and our photographer finally nails his money shot over a non-entity Z-lister by poking his 12 incher in-between her railings and firing off some shots (Oh er!). We see this woman holding back tears after visiting an elderly relative at a palatial nursing home and this is the snap our camera guy manages to capture: a well deserved reward and Judging by the grey Canon L lens he’s using, the money’s going to come in handy paying off the loan he borrowed to buy the glass in the first place.

Back at home, our photographer cycles through his digitally-captured, peep-sneakery now uploaded onto his laptop, he suddenly has a conscience over the picture’s theme: he knows it’s likely to be a £100,000 red-top-rag, front page picture but nothing’s really worth exploiting this poor woman’s grief, is it?. His finger hovers over the delete button whilst the voices in his sustenance-sapped head bicker between themselves and then finally, he wipes the image of a grieving Alex from the screen; relieved but obviously pained in making the decision, we as viewers can feel empathy for his awkward situation and knowledge our photographer did the right thing. In the closing scene, the photographer is snapping away at Alex once again, only this time she’s on a red carpet somewhere wearing a white-picket fence smile – obviously because our man didn’t destroy her with his candid snaps, eh? – and so, he finally gets the shot in the end, without destroying anyone after all.

Now, call me heartless but if our photographer has got bills to pay like the rest of us, perhaps a mortgage and a mithering wife to deal with, then the original images of Alex’s fragility will be uploaded from his memory card once the camera has stopped rolling and emailed off to the highest bidder quicker than you can say “Cheese!” So, while this lady’s trauma is splashed across the news-stands the following day and she’s trying to cope with this leak by swallowing handfuls of tranquilisers between bottles of Vodka, our snap-happy fellow will be rolling in his coin, without a care in the world and as happy as a pig in shit. If Alex gives up the ghost and succumbs to leaving behind this mortal coil directly due to the effect his sordid photographs have had on her life, then maybe, just maybe he’ll feel a twinge of guilt but I’m betting against it myself: with an upgrade from a scooter to a BMW, a new wardrobe and a wife now content with her extra shopping money, our photographer will be back out rustling through the celebs’ backyards and gardens once more, hoping for the next picture that’ll bring in the hard Ecu, regardless of consequence. Let’s raise our glasses to a modern-day, self-made, greedy bastard of a man who’s out to hurt nobody except all around him!

 

The second HSBC advert currently on show is titled “Responsibility” and we get introduced to a trawler captain, who awakens in a dimly-lit bedroom, his posture wracked with doubt and misgivings at the sea journey which lies ahead of him. We see him wandering down the middle of a road, unshaven with unkempt hair, and wonder to ourselves that it’s a miracle he managed to reach the dock and his ship without being picked up by the Police for vagrancy during his walk there. Once on the open ocean and aboard his swell-buffeted boat, our captain has his drift nets out dragging the sea floor in the hope of a monstrous shoal of fish to placate an increasingly despondent looking crew, but to no avail. This fishy drought in a sea of plenty continues day after day, night after night, through torrential storms and clear skies but any bulging net-fulls are not forthcoming: with nothing stocked in ice below deck for when they return to harbour, things are looking very bleak for all concerned come their pay day.

Suddenly, all the crew start rejoicing as they hit a vast shoal and even the dour captain manages a broken-toothed, brandy-soaked grin in light of the dancing surface of fish before his very eyes; but hold on a minute, there’s a problem. As the winch brings in the net, they see that a Dolphin has gotten caught up inside with the fish; so, without a second thought, the captain reaches across and pulls out a filleting knife ready to dispatch the pesky Cetacean. Oh, but wait a second! We got hold of the wrong end of the stick regarding this ruthless set of maritime fish-gutting ruffians, as without a second thought, the captain slashes, hacks and scythes his many thousands of pounds worth of netting into ribbons in order to free the aquatic mammal. Then, they all watch their life-changing catch flitter off into the depths, once again being chased and scoffed by the greedy Dolphin in a blatant display of obtuse ignorance for its saviours’ impending financial destruction.

Again, I’m sure if the camera really was there on the trawler, the crew would made it clear filming should stop immediately in no uncertain terms and once turned off, all hell would break loose as a mutiny spreads from bow to stern. First port of call would be their self-righteous, net-cutting captain, who would soon find himself being gutted and turned into a ruddy-chum fish attractor; then, his liquefied offal would be slopped onto the sea’s surface in the hope of catching something of consequence in order for the proud trawler-men to regain an ounce of dignity. When no fish return to the chum, the crew then turn on themselves with anything they find at hand, each ravaged by pure rage; as they maim and slaughter one another, the Dolphin returns with its pod and the inquisitive Cetaceans bob upright in the waves, their heads clear of the water, tormenting the deranged crew members by emitting a cacophony of mocking clicks and whistles. When finally the trawler is found many weeks later drifting aimlessly, the Coastguard discovers an emaciated, insane sole survivor whose only utterance is “I f**king hate Dolphins!” repeated over and over again whilst sitting in and surrounded by the partly-eaten, cannibalised remains of his fellow shipmates.

So, there we have a couple of sub-textual messages straight from HSBC’s banking world, basically telling us we need to readdress our lives and take a long look at our own Integrity and Responsibility before we dare to question what our Governing Masters fiddle from the global kitty to slake their avarice. This patent level of pure, unadulterated, media-driven toss that panders to our need to believe in the banks and their surety at taking care of all our hard-earned monies, even after all the bonus scandals and the public crumbling of respected institutes, means that these two adverts seek to reinforce our confidence, without any hint of irony. As far as I’m concerned, I can think of no greater expression of my hatred towards this pair of 30 second life-stealers – that’s a full minute of my existence lost to these two meaningless ruminations – than to throw something at my TV screen each time one of them raises its tiresome head during an ad break. Sure, it’ll cost me a lot of money in the long run, launching each television’s remote control through its glass front and shattering them but then it’s either that or a killing-spree; so, smashed TVs it’ll have to be for the time being as I’m saving my rampaging beast for something that really pisses me off in the near future… 

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