UBS starts image polishing in its home market

The major bank UBS is making its reputation in Switzerland cost something. On Monday, a nationwide advertising campaign will start, as the news agency AWP has learned from several involved sources.


The timing of a major marketing campaign after the forced takeover of CS is probably no coincidence. All the more, UBS wants to make clear in a broad-based campaign on television, in the cinema, in newspapers, online, and with posters in particular: UBS "acts responsibly" and "is rational, conservative and thoughtful." In other words: UBS is not CS.

Since the emergency takeover was announced in March, UBS had already made a conspicuous effort in its communications to distance itself from CS - for example, with regard to the abuses in risk management that prevailed there. UBS President Colm Kelleher, for example, spoke about a "cultural filter" through which CS employees from investment banking had to pass in order to work at UBS.

Great commitment

The UBS management under the new CEO Sergio Ermotti disappointed many a Swiss at the end of August with its decision to fully integrate CS Switzerland. Many had hoped until the end that the traditional Credit Suisse brand would survive in some form, at least here in Switzerland.

According to the information available, the motto of the campaign is also appropriate: "A bank like Switzerland. Meaning: UBS is a Swiss bank with its roots in Switzerland. It is regionally anchored in Swiss society in the communities and also wants to promote young talent.

After the decision to integrate CS Switzerland, UBS immediately announced that it would continue to sponsor Credit Suisse at least until the end of 2025. This involves the promotion of sports, culture and society.

"A bank like Switzerland"

The campaign will initially be launched digitally next week: on YouTube, social media and in UBS's own channels such as the website and branches. It will then go live on TV and in cinemas in the week beginning October 9. The campaign will be visible until December. When asked, UBS itself only confirmed that a campaign for Switzerland was planned.

According to information from the film production environment, there will be commercials in various lengths, in all four national languages and in English. The production company Solid & Haller Film from Zurich is apparently involved; the film was directed by Eduardo Vieitez.

How does UBS want to get its message across? The video clips are intended to create an analogy between UBS and the country and Swiss society. According to reports, there are several scenes with a wide variety of people: for example, at a cocktail party, in a restaurant.

No prominent advocates

People in Switzerland should recognize themselves. So no celebrities are shown and no one from bank management. But Ermotti would be a suitable advertising figure. The 63-year-old from Ticino has an excellent reputation in the banking world. He did many things right during his first CEO tenure at UBS from 2011 to 2020.

UBS has also run major image campaigns in the past, such as the one now underway. In 2015, a global campaign ran with a very emotional commercial: to the well-known song "Hero" by Family of the Year, questions were displayed one after the other that accompany a life from birth to death. The core message of the ad was that, together with UBS, one could find an answer to these life questions.

Advertising alone will not be enough

Unlike the commercial that now appears, it was a clip based purely on text at the time. Then there was the international UBS commercial from 2010 - after the financial crisis and the near-death of Switzerland's largest bank in 2008, as well as the rescue by the state. Under the slogan "We will not rest," the tattered image was to be improved by associating the brand with historical celebrities: Astronaut Neil Armstrong, boxer Muhammad Ali, cellist Yo Yo Ma, opera singer Maria Callas.

But advertising alone - without subsequent action - is not enough. And in the case of the integration of CS, with the restructuring of the problematic areas and the necessary reduction of costs, UBS still has a long rocky road ahead of it that will drag on for several years. So a reassurance pill for the Swiss with regard to what is now the only major bank in Switzerland - i.e. an even bigger cluster risk in the financial center than before - is not a bad thing at all. (AWP/Young-Sim Song)

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