Rockland Trust Got This Ad Wrong

Advertising is more than a good design. It’s psychology. It’s a way to send a message so effective that even if your conscience does not remember it, your subconscious will. That’s what this add is about. Take a look.


Do you get it? No? I’ll explain.

First, let me say that there’s nothing wrong with the design itself. It looks clean, it’s easy to read, visually effective. The problem is the message.

Reread it. Slowly, this time.

The first word you see is “Worry.” They start the add by sending a negative message, and, most likely, that’s the only thing you will remember.

I took this picture in a train station. Now, let’s be honest. Nobody likes to take crowded trains every day to come and go from work. People are tired just to imagine that they will probably have to stand on their feet for a 20-30 minute commute. Only this idea gives me chills. But then, Rockland Trust – with the ad agency that created the piece – decided to make it even worse by adding a “train delay” to something that is already unpleasant. You don’t need to be an expert in psychology to know that our brain creates associations – and it does it fairly quickly.

What are people associating with Rockland Trust? Train delays. And the fact that you should worry about them. When the message gets to the no-fee point, it’s already too late.  Our brain just lost momentum, and it is now stressed about a possible delay, or worse. We’re naturally wired to be negative. When we feed our negative nature with negative feelings, it’s like pouring gas into the fire – it expands subconsciously and ruins our mood in a blink of an eye.

It’s like Coca-Cola saying “Worry about the pizza, not the 0 calories soda.” All of a sudden, you don’t want a bite of that pizza anymore. The experience is ruined, and the brand is now linked to something unpleasant.

My suggestion for this ad would be adding something positive instead. I imagine that everybody that needs to take the train to go home would rather have a quick and smooth ride, right? Why not say

  • Better than no-fee banking, just a quick ride home.

Or yet

  • We’re saving you the fees so you can take a faster ride home.

You got the idea. Ride + Home + Faster are all positive factors. We also start the message with “Better” and “We’re saving you.” Rockland Trust is now my dear friend that helps me to get home faster. It doesn’t make sense on the surface, but deep down in your brain, the association is there.

A positive message will create a positive mental association.

Now let me run because I have a train to catch.

Published by Leonardo Lino Pereira

Leo was born in Brazil, where he received a B.A. in Media & Advertising. Before moving to the U.S., he worked for over 5 years in the real estate market, starting when he was only 19 as a real estate agent, later being promoted to sales coordinator, and finally working in the marketing field for real estate companies. In 2016 he moved to the U.S. where he now pursues a Master of Science degree in Public Relations & Integrated Marketing. Leo was awarded as Sales Champion in 2012, signing more than $7 million dollars in property contracts in less than 6 months, and is also the University Marketing Award Recipient for the year of 2013, in the "Presentation Out of the Box" category.

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