Fifth Third Bank is now “the curious bank” whatever that means.

March 5, 2012


Until recently, I didn’t even know what 5/3 meant.

Fifth Third Bank has a new mantra/tagline courtesy of Leo Burnett and it’s a puzzler. To paraphrase another slogan near and dear to my heart (and Leo Burnett’s for that matter), this is definitely not your father’s banking slogan. Fifth/Third is now “the curious Bank.”

Ironically, I’ve always wondered what Fifth Third (5/3) stood for in the first place. Researching it, I found a less than poetic answer. In 1908, Fifth National Bank and Third National Bank merged. So much for my theory the name was derived from some exotic economic concept. Nope. Just a couple financial institutions combining interests. Yawn. Happens all the time.

On that note, we should applaud Fifth Third and LBCO for utterly avoiding category clichés. Like, for example, the bank’s previous drippy tagline: “The things we do for dreams.”

“Curious people ask better questions… and find better answers,” said Larry Magnesen, the bank’s senior vice president and chief marketing officer, in a release. “Curiosity surfaced as an important value we wanted to affirm with our own employees: be curious about our customers’ needs, be curious about the way things could be made easier, and be curious about how we can innovate our products and services.”

I suppose…

But something bothers me about a bank introducing itself as curious. For one thing, it’s vaguely negative. Sort of like when you describe someone as “interesting.” Red flag. Is that the best you can say about yourself?


Curiosity worked for Altoids. But a bank?

On another level, the line seems more strategic than creative. Overtly stating we are “the curious bank” is like saying you’re cool. If you were you wouldn’t have to say it. However, if one is going to put “curious” in the tagline maybe it should have been qualified -somehow acknowledging the acute challenges facing banks and their customers. I’m worried that all by itself curious comes off as naïve or even annoying, like a precocious child.

Admittedly, I have not seen the broadcast yet, nor could I find any film online. But I did hear a radio spot. Its oddness is why I wrote this story. So it did catch my attention. I am curious. I also went to the bank’s website where they attempt to explain curious. Are they on to something? I’m just not there yet.

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15 Responses to “Fifth Third Bank is now “the curious bank” whatever that means.”

  1. Until now, I have never heard of Fifth Third Bank. So my big fat opinion is from a consumer who is objectively outside the brand. That said, I think an unfamiliar “curious bank” is not a bank I would care to bank with. In light of the devastation wrought on our economy by banks gambling with consumer monies and mortgages using curious-enough methods that proved to be disastrous, I would speedily run from any bank claiming that their curiosity is some form of investment technique.

    Just how curious is “curious”? What sort of financial investment tricks will curiosity compel this bank to try? How risky is this curiosity to the longevity of an investment like my 401K? What part of financial regulation will their curiosity find too restrictive to comply to? And why should I hand my life savings over to an institution supposing that curiosity is an acceptable factor in discovering new ways to bank?

    I don’t want my bank to be curious about how to invest my money. I want them to be sure and confident, knowing and certain – the things I am NOT in my current state of relative investment illiteracy.

    I admit my level of suspicion may be borderline paranoid. But the banks have well earned my scorn, and are perpetually branded in my mind as the banksters we can not trust.

    And without that most intimate form of trust, that an organization is doing the right thing with my money, curiosity can hardly be seen as a benefit for banking customers.

  2. I want my bankers to be knowledgeable, not curious.

  3. Kevin AOL said

    I just heard the tagline on a radio commercial. I asked myself, “What is that supposed to mean?” It could mean a lot of things–mostly all red-flaggish. One thing, but not a likely thing, immediately comes to mind.

    I don’t intend this to be derogatory in any way, but I have often heard people being described as “curious” when politely referred to as suspected of being gay or bisexual.

    So–is 5/3 bank advertising that they are a place the gay community should bank? Probably not, but the thought does come to mind—at least for me.

    Kevin

  4. fm said

    . . . Fifth Third Bank is now “the curious bank”
    YAH LIKE, Curious in how we can screw you out of your money.
    Past-Posting previous days deposits so a full day and 1/2 later, debits gets posted as “Insufficient Funds”.
    TRUST? . . . . NOT !!!!!!

  5. Julie said

    i agree with fm, they are not curious in any way shape or form. Their customer service is the worst in the business. If this is their attempt at convincing the account holders that they are suddenly onto something here… let’s see, yes, I believe we should be curious about that… well news flash they could have been curious as to why; when a stop payment was placed on a draft, account was charged a $33 fee for the stop payment and then the item was paid when presented, the response from CSR was well we cannot guarantee it will be stopped….hum… curious….very curious

  6. woody24 said

    I just dropped 5/3, partly because of this campaign. Well, it was other things too. Earylier this year, someone gained access to my account, and was able to have 5/3 change all my info over the phone. Address, pin, request a new card, etc. Not sure how it was possible, other than someone on 5/3’s end didn’t care to verify all info.

    So its been something I’ve been meaning to do for a while now, but their campaign drove the final nail in what I already knew after I had my bank account wiped out.

    I want a bank who knows what they are doing. Not one who’s going to experiment with my money.

    Very sad to learn that Leo Burnett is behind this. Its a shame that they would propose such a bad idea, and that 5/3 accepted it. Or maybe it was the other way around?

  7. Bruce M. said

    After being a fifth third customer for years, but now having to endure surprise fees, robo courtesy calls at 9am Sunday mornings, fuzzy math-postings that dont happen for days, increases in all and any fees. I am curious as to who would want to do anymore business with Fifth Third. I am looking into a Credit Union-Soon No More Fifth Third.
    Then Fifth Third will be curious as to where all the customers went to?

  8. George said

    2 thumbs down on 5/3’s curiosity and fee mandates. 2 thumbs up for your blog on the subject.

  9. K.J. Adams said

    I’m “curious” about fifth third’s latest tlevision commercial. As a psychiatric nurse, I can’t imagine why a child would be used in this ad which displays some very troubling behaviors….and “curious” doesn’t come to mind at all. Shame on you. Kathy A.

  10. […] good job of contrasting the two cities. Interestingly both birdhouses are in front of the 5/3 bank, the curious bank. Both bridhouses are built to look like the bank they stand in front of […]

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