Just in time for RRSP season, ING “launched a new bilingual campaign likening the RRSP process to a malady that can cause symptoms like sleeplessness and anxiety,” according to Marketingmag. “One TV spot [launched on Jan.14] opens on a man glumly sitting in a chair outside and proceeds to show images of him lying motionless on the couch, or standing beside unused fitness equipment. The spot then informs viewers that his wife noted his condition and had him at ING.ca “first thing.”
But the commercial rubbed some viewers, who felt it unfairly mocked mental illness, the wrong way.
After Dave Fraser, director of social media with a non-profit organization, tweeted to ING about the commercial, he had a response in minutes. “Not an auto-response,” he said, “an actual response, answering my concerns about their advertising.”
He wasn’t the only one. In fact, the social media backlash via Facebook and Twitter was so fierce that ING pulled the commercial and issued this response on its Facebook page:
“We’d like to thank all of our Clients and followers for their feedback. While it was never our intention to make light of any health concerns related to mental illness, we have heard you loud and clear. We have decided to remove our RSP commercial from TV. It may take a few days for it to come off air, but the process is in motion. Please accept our apologies if you were offended by our commercial.”
Marketing Mag also reported that the advertising campaign, run by the Toronto agency John St., includes “billboards [featuring] the signature ING orange overlaid with messages like ‘Is RSP keeping you up at night?’ and ‘Every year, millions of Canadians suffer from RSP.’ Each board features the message ‘We can help.’”
Disapproving viewers have almost unanimously praised the financial services company for its swift reaction.
“I don’t like what ING Direct did,” says Eileen Fisher, writing for The Yummy Mummy Club, ”but I do like how they handled it.”