Nationwide ads starring actor Dominic West as boss of fictional rival are banned after watchdog rules they misled consumers into thinking the bank wouldn't be closing its branches

  • Post category:news
  • Reading time:11 min(s) read

Nationwide ads starring The Crown actor Dominic West as the boss of a fictional rival have been banned for misleading consumers into thinking that the bank would not be closing its branches.

In the television ad, West, who recently played Prince Charles in The Crown, jokes about a large expenses bill for a company lunch before going on to talk about cutbacks and closing the branch.

When a colleague says that Nationwide – seen from their window over the road – is not closing branches, West replies: ‘We’re not Nationwide, are we?’

A voiceover at the end says: ‘Unlike the big banks, we’re not closing our branches,’ while on-screen text reads: ‘Publicly shared branch closures at Lloyds, bank of Scotland/Halifax, Natwest, Barclays, Santander and HSBC.’

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) investigated the TV, radio and press ads, in which West plays the boss of a fictional rival of Nationwide, following 282 complaints.

One of those was from Santander, who understood that Nationwide had recently closed or reduced opening hours at a number of branches, and challenged whether the ads were misleading.

Ads for Nationwide featuring actor Dominic West have been banned for misleading consumers into thinking that the bank would not be closing its branches, unlike it's other high street rivals

Ads for Nationwide featuring actor Dominic West have been banned for misleading consumers into thinking that the bank would not be closing its branches, unlike it’s other high street rivals

When a colleague says that Nationwide - seen from their window over the road - is not closing branches, West replies: 'We're not Nationwide, are we?'

When a colleague says that Nationwide – seen from their window over the road – is not closing branches, West replies: ‘We’re not Nationwide, are we?’

In the television ad, West, who recently played Prince Charles in The Crown, jokes about a large expenses bill for a company lunch before going on to talk about cutbacks

In the television ad, West, who recently played Prince Charles in The Crown, jokes about a large expenses bill for a company lunch before going on to talk about cutbacks

An ad for Nationwide which has been banned by the ASA for misleading consumers

An ad for Nationwide which has been banned by the ASA for misleading consumers

The radio ad featured a similar conversation, with the colleague saying: ‘Boss, news from Nationwide,’ and ‘They’ve just confirmed they’re keeping branches open,’ before a voiceover said: ‘Unlike the big banks, we’re not closing our branches.’

The press ad featured the text: ‘Going, Going, Nowhere’ and ‘Unlike the big banks, we’re not closing our branches’. Small print at the bottom of the ad said: ‘If we have a branch in your town or city, we’ll still be there until at least 2026.’

Nationwide said it launched its original ‘Branch Promise’ in 2019 not to leave a town or city where there was no other Nationwide branch, and strengthened this in 2023 to guarantee they would not close any of their branches until at least 2026.

The bank told the ASA they had closed 20 branches in the last 18 months, including two in 2023, but had the largest remaining number of branches of 10 banks and had closed the smallest percentage of its estate.

This year alone, a staggering 245 banks at least are due to close despite some areas already not having in-person banking facilities nearby

This year alone, a staggering 245 banks at least are due to close despite some areas already not having in-person banking facilities nearby

They also supplied an article from consumer magazine Which?, that recommended Nationwide as a building society for consumers who still valued face-to-face contact.

The ASA said viewers were likely to miss qualifications within the ads that bank’s ‘Branch Promise’ would be in place until ‘at least 2026’.

READ MORE – Interactive map reveals how nearly 400 towns across Britain are losing their last local bank as Barclays, Natwest, Lloyds and more announce high street closures – is YOURS on the list?
Advertisement

It also understood that in the 12 months before the ad campaign, Santander had closed fewer branches than Nationwide and, at the time the ad was seen, Santander had not announced that they would be closing branches in the future.

The ASA said: ‘We acknowledged that over a 10-year period, in comparison to other financial institutions, Nationwide had closed the smallest percentage of any financial institution’s estate.

‘However, we noted that they had nevertheless closed 20% of their estate, which equated to 152 branches, and we considered that was a significant number that had been permanently closed.

‘We also understood that since Nationwide had launched their original Branch Promise, in the 18 months since July 2022 they had permanently closed 20 branches. Of those 20, 14 had been closed in the 12 months preceding the campaign, with two of them having been closed in 2023.’

The ASA concluded: ‘As above, we understood that Nationwide’s Branch Promise was only valid until 2026, at which time Nationwide could begin to close branches permanently.

Since the beginning of 2022, some of the country's biggest banks, including Natwest, have declared the closure of 388 branches in areas with no other banking option for locals

Since the beginning of 2022, some of the country’s biggest banks, including Natwest, have declared the closure of 388 branches in areas with no other banking option for locals

‘We considered those factors relating to previous, recent branch closures and the effect on future branches in the long term were likely to be significant to consumers when making decisions about whether to choose Nationwide, in the context of the claims made in the ads that Nationwide were not closing their branches.

‘Because we considered that consumers would understand from the ads that Nationwide would not be closing branches in the long-term future and that they had not recently closed branches, we concluded that the ads were misleading.’

The watchdog ruled that the ads must not appear again in their current form, adding: ‘We told Nationwide Building Society not to mislead in relation to the closure of their branches.’

A Nationwide spokesman said: ‘We recognise the ASA’s decision and are delighted to have the opportunity to make even clearer our now extended branch promise to keep every branch open until the start of 2028.

‘The investment we have made to keep branches open means we now have more than any other brand and are the last one standing in more than 90 communities.’

The British towns where the last bank branch is closing or already closed

Abbey Road, Ealing

Aberfeldy, Perth and Kinross

Aberfoyle, Stirling

Abergele, Wales

Abertillery, Wales

Acomb, York

Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge

Alderley Edge, Cheshire

Aldersgate Street, City of London

Alnwick, Northumberland

Ampthill, Buckinghamshire

Ascot, Berkshire

Auchterarder, Scotland

Aviemore, Highland

Avonmouth, Bristol

Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire

Bacup, Lancashire

Bakewell, Derbyshire

Ballater, Aberdeenshire

Ballynahinch, Newry

Bargoed, Caerphilly

Barnard Castle, County Durham

Bath Road, Cheltenham

Batley, West Yorkshire

Bearsden, East Dunbartonshire

Beckton, Newham

Bedale, Hambleton

Bentham, Craven

Benton, Newcastle upon Tyne

Biggin Hill, Bromley

Bilborough, Nottingham

Bilbrook, South Staffordshire

Birkenhead – Moreton, Merseyside

Bishop Auckland, County Durham

Bishop’s Waltham, Winchester

Blackheath, Lewisham

Bodmin, Cornwall

Borrowash, Erewash

Boundary Road, Norwich

Brackley, South Northamptonshire

Braemar, Aberdeenshire

Bramford Road, Ipswich

Bramhall, Lancashire

Bretton Centre, Peterborough

Bridge of Weir, Renfrewshire

Bristol Road, Gloucester

Broadwater, Worthing

Bromyard, Herefordshire

Broxburn, West Lothian

Builth Wells, Powys

Burnham-on-Crouch, Maldon

Burntisland, Fife

Cadishead, Salford

Caldicot, Monmouthshire

Callington, Cornwall

Calne, Wiltshire

Calthorpe Road, Edgbaston

Carlton, Gedling

Carnforth, Lancaster

Catterick Garrison, Richmondshire

Central Circus, Barnet

Chadwell Heath, Redbridge

Chalfont St Peter, Buckinghamshire

Chandlers Ford, Eastleigh

Chapeltown, Sheffield

Cheadle, Stockport

Cheddar, Sedgemoor

Cheshunt, Broxbourne

Chesterton Road, Cambridge

Chigwell, Redbridge

Chingford, London

Chipping Camden, Cotswold

Chipping Norton, West Oxfordshire

Chislehurst, Bromley

Cinderford, Forest of Dean

City Office Park, Lincoln

Civic Realm Leisure Centre, Glasgow City

Clarkston, East Renfrewshire

Cleethorpes, North East Lincolnshire

Cleobury Mortimer, Shropshire

Clepington Road, Dundee

Clogher, Mid Ulster

Cobham, Elmbridge

Cockermouth, Allerdale

College Place, Southampton

Comber, Ards and North Down

Comber, Northern Ireland

Corringham, Thurrock

Coulsdon, Croydon

Cowbridge, Vale of Glamorgan

Cradley Heath, Sandwell

Crediton, Mid Devon

Crieff, Scotland

Crumlin, Antrim and Newtownabbey

Cuffley, Welwyn Hatfield

Cults, Aberdeen City

Cumnock, Scotland

Darlaston, Walsall

Dartmouth, Devon

Darwen, Lancashire

Dawlish, Devon

Denbigh, Denbighshire

Denton, Tameside

Dinnington, South Yorkshire

Downend, South Gloucestershire

Downham Market, Norfolk

Drayton, Norfolk

Dunbar, East Lothian

Dunblane, Stirling

Dunkeld, Perth and Kinross

Dunmurry, Belfast

Duns, Scottish Borders

Dyce, Aberdeen City

Earl’s Court Road, Kensington and Chelsea

Earlestown, Merseyside

East Dulwich, Southwark

East Horsley, Guildford

Eckington, North East Derbyshire

Edgbaston Park Road, Edgbaston

Elland, West Yorkshire

Ellon, Aberdeenshire

Emersons Green Retail Park, Bristol

Enfield North, Greater London

Epworth, North Lincolnshire

Esher, Elmbridge

Euston Road, Camden

Eyemouth, Scottish Borders

Falkland, Fife

Ferryhill, County Durham

Filey, North Yorkshire

Filton, South Gloucestershire

Finchley Road, Camden

Fivemiletown, Mid Ulster

Fleet Street, City of London

Flitwick, Central Bedfordshire

Forest Gate, Newham

Forge Corner, Blaby

Fort Augustus, Highland

Framlingham, East Suffolk

Fulwell, Sunderland

Garforth, Leeds

Gatwick Road, Crawley

Gerrards Cross, Hertfordshire

Girvan, Scotland

Glasgow, Glasgow City

Gogarburn, City of Edinburgh

Govan, Glasgow City

Grafton Gate East, Milton Keynes

Great Harwood, Lancashire

Great North Road, Doncaster

Greenwich Church Street, Greenwich

Guiseley, Leeds

Hadleigh, Castle Point

Halliwell Road, Bolton

Haltwhistle, Northumberland

Harleston, Norfolk

Hatfield, Hertfordshire

Haverhill, Suffolk

Haxby, York

Hazlemere, Buckinghamshire

Headingley, Leeds

Headington, Oxford

Heald Green, Stockport

Heartsease, Norwich

Heathfield, Wealden

Hemsworth, Wakefield

Heslington, York

Hessle, East Yorkshire

Heywood, Lancashire

High Holborn, Camden

Hills Road, Cambridge

Hinckley Road, Leicester

Histon, South Cambridgeshire

Holloway Road, Islington

Holmes Chapel, Cheshire

Holmfirth, Kirklees

Holsworthy, Torridge

Holt, Norfolk

Holywood, Ards and North Down

Horfield, Bristol

Hoveton, Norfolk

Hoyland Nether, Barnsley

Hull, Kingston Upon Hull

Hunt’s Cross, Liverpool

Hyson Green, Nottingham

Hythe, New Forest

Ilminster, South Somerset

Immingham, North East Lincolnshire

Innerleithen, Scottish Borders

Intake, Sheffield

Isleworth, Hounslow

Jedburgh, Scotland

Keswick, Allerdale

Keynsham, Somerset

Kidlington, Cherwell

Kidsgrove, Newcastle-under-Lyme

Kilcreggan, Argyll and Bute

Kilwinning, Scotland

Kings Square, Belfast

Kingsland Centre, Thatcham

Kingstanding Road, Birmingham

Kingsway, Gateshead

Kirkby in Ashfield, Nottinghamshire

Kirkby Stephen, Eden

Knowle, Solihull

Ladbroke Grove, Kensington and Chelsea

Langley, Slough

Larkfield, Kent

Leeds Road, Bradford

Leiston, East Suffolk

Lesmahagow, South Lanarkshire

Leyburn, Richmondshire

Lincoln Road, Peterborough

Liphook, East Hampshire

Lisnaskea, Fermanagh and Omagh

Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire

Llangollen, Denbighshire

Llantwit Major, Vale of Glamorgan

Lochmaddy, Isle Of North Uist

Lockerbie, Dumfries and Galloway

London Road, Warrington

Longbridge Town Centre, Birmingham

Lower Addiscombe Road, Croydon

Lyndhurst, New Forest

Lytham St Annes, Fylde

Mablethorpe, Lincolnshire

Maghera, Mid Ulster

Malpas, Cheshire West and Chester

Malvern Link, Malvern Hills

Manningtree, Tendring

Market Bosworth, Hinckley and Bosworth

Market Rasen, Lincolnshire

Market Weighton, East Yorkshire

Marylebone High Street, Westminster

Media City UK, Salford

Middleton in Teesdale, County Durham

Mildenhall, Suffolk

Mildenhall, West Suffolk

Mill Hill, Barnet

Millport, North Ayrshire

Mirfield, Kirklees

Morriston, Swansea

Mount Pleasant Road, Shropshire

Mountain Ash, Wales

Mumbles, Swansea

Nailsea, North Somerset

New Line, Bradford

New Mills, High Peak

New Ollerton, Newark and Sherwood

New Romney, Folkestone and Hythe

New Rossington, South Yorkshire

Newburn, Newcastle upon Tyne

Newcastle, Northern Ireland

Newcastleton, Scottish Borders

Newton Road, Torbay

Norbury, Lambeth

Normanton, Wakefield

Old Fletton, Peterborough

Ormeau Road, Belfast

Ossett, West Yorkshire

Otley, West Yorkshire

Oundle, East Northamptonshire

Oxted, Tandridge

Parkhouse Industrial Estate, Newcastle-under-Lyme

Pemberton, Wigan, Wigan

Penge, Bromley

Pershore, Worcestershire

Pickering, Ryedale

Pollokshields, Glasgow City

Port Glasgow, Inverclyde

Port Sunlight, Wirral

Portadown, Armagh City

Portrush, Northern Ireland

Poulton-Le-Fylde, Wyre

Prenton, Wirral

Prescot, Merseyside

Prestwich, Bury

Queen Elizabeth II Square, Chelmsford

Queensferry Road, Edinburgh

Radlett, Hertsmere

Ramsbottom, Lancashire

Renfrew, Renfrewshire

Rhyd-Y-Penau, Cardiff

Richmond, North Yorkshire

Risca, Wales

Rothbury, Northumberland

Rothwell, Leeds

Royston, Hertfordshire

Rubery, Bromsgrove

Saintfield, Newry

Saltash, Cornwall

Saltburn-by-the-Sea, Redcar and Cleveland

Seaham, County Durham

Seahouses, Northumberland

Selkirk, Scottish Borders

Settle, Craven

Sheffield, Sheffield

Shenfield, Brentwood

Shepton Mallet, Mendip

Sherborne, Dorset

Shirebrook, Derbyshire

Shotts, North Lanarkshire

Slaithwaite, Kirklees

South Elmsall, West Yorkshire

South End, Croydon

South Kensington, Kensington and Chelsea

South Molton, North Devon

Southampton, Fareham

Southsea, Portsmouth

Southwick, Adur

Southwold, East Suffolk

St David’s, Pembrokeshire

St Ives, Cornwall

St Johns, Colchester

St Oswald’s Retail Park, Gloucester

St Thomas Centre, Exeter

Stafford Road, Wolverhampton

Stalybridge, Lancashire

Station Parade, Brent

Station Road, Brighton

Stone, Staffordshire

Strathaven, South Lanarkshire

Stromness, Orkney Islands

Summertown, Oxford

Sutton Road, Maidstone

Swanley, Sevenoaks

Swansea – Morriston, Wales

Swinton, Salford

Tadcaster, Selby

Talbot Green, Rhondda Cynon Taf

Tarbert, Argyll and Bute

Teddington, Richmond upon Thames

Teignmouth, Devon

Tenby, Pembrokeshire

The Crescent, Colchester

The Forum, North Kesteven

The Sandlings, Ipswich

Thorne, South Yorkshire

Tilehurst, Reading

Tiptree, Colchester

Todmorden, Calderdale

Tonypandy, Rhondda Cynon Taf

Tower Bridge Road, Southwark

Trafford Centre, Manchester

Tranent, East Lothian

Tredegar, Blaenau Gwent

Treorchy, Wales

Tumble, Carmarthenshire

Ulverston, Cumbria

Upper Newtownards Road, Belfast

Uppingham Road, Leicester

Verwood, Dorset

Walsgrave Road, Coventry

Wanstead, Redbridge

Ware, Hertfordshire

Warrenpoint, Newry

Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland

Waterside, Derry City and Strabane

Wath Upon Dearne, South Yorkshire

Wembley, Brent

Weoley Castle, Birmingham

West Drayton, Greater London

West Kirby, Merseyside

West Mersea, Essex

Western International Market, Southall

Westhoughton, Bolton

Westhoughton, Lancashire

Wetherby, North Yorkshire

Whickham, Gateshead

Whickham, Gateshead

Whitby, North Yorkshire

Whitefriars, Norwich

Whiteladies Road, Bristol

Wickersley, Rotherham

Willesden Green, Greater London

Williton, Somerset West and Taunton

Wimborne Road, Bournemouth

Withernsea, East Yorkshire

Withington, Manchester

Woburn Sands, Milton Keynes

Wolseley Road, Plymouth

Wombourne, South Staffordshire

Woolton, Liverpool

Wotton-Under-Edge, Stroud

Yarm, Stockton-on-Tees