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Open letter to Whoever-The-Fuck-Created-This-HSBC-Ad

By on Jul 7, 2010 in Uncategorized | 18 comments

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Dear HSBC,

Here is an advertisement your bank released in today’s edition of HT Business. I found this ad perplexing at multiple levels, and wanted to have a chat with you about it.

Do we live 'below the equator' in India?

Let’s start with the sardar wearing a kilt. Groan stereotype groan. With a bar on top telling you the location, I feel it wasn’t necessary. Not everyone in Scotland wears a kilt.

What really baffles me is the heading:

Living below the equator doesn’t mean you won’t be recognized above it.

Newsflash, dear HSBC – no part of India is “below the equator”, definitely no part of India where non-kilt-wearing Punjab da puttars live. You, HSBC, started off as Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation and are now headquartered in London. None of the cities – Hong Kong, Shanghai, London – are “below the equator” either, so you can’t weasel out using that excuse.

For an ad marketing premium banking services to a geographically displaced traveller (probably people you refer to internally in the bank as “high-value customers”, as if they are some sort expensive cattle to be reined in within a ranch), [start sarcasm] this ad inspires great confidence in you bank’s capabilities [end sarcasm]. Do you know how intelligent you come off as in this ad, HSBC? You sound as if a bunch of hillbilly rednecks who “dun ‘now no thang ’bout this geology thang”.

Pictured - HSBC's marketing team. Guy on extreme right of picture is the customary zombie employee hired for equal opportunity purposes.

What’s that I hear you say, HSBC? Your employees didn’t make this ad? You hired an ad agency to do it? Well then, surely somebody in your company would have at least looked at an ad you were going to spend millions funding, right? Right?

It would have worked in Australia. It would have worked in South Africa. India? I think not.

Until the next time then, HSBC, or perhaps, never…

Love and kisses,

Ankur x

PS – It would be so fucking ironic, dear HSBC, if my blog started showing ads from your bank around this blog post. You may have a laugh about that at my expense. kthxbai.

Update: Someone from an IP address belonging to ‘HSBC Bank Plc, London’ has been reading this page for over six hours today. Maybe they’d want to fill out the butthurt report form.


  1. Saad Akhtar

    July 8, 2010

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    Updated copy: Just because you live below the Tropic of Cancer doesnt mean… etc etc.

    Only shown in peninsular Indian cities.

  2. vadakkus

    July 8, 2010

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    Is it just me, or are all ads nowadays getting more and more retarded? But this is just holy shit retarded. Blame it on all the booze marketing guys consume on the pretext of ‘searching for inspiration’, they have finally lost it..

  3. a traveller

    July 8, 2010

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    May I also add that, as an HSBC account holder, in the one country I found myself stranded in without any money, HSBC was of no help whatsoever, because they only handle corporate clients there. No private banking in Italy, sorry!

  4. Ashish

    July 8, 2010

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    Me: I am Ashish. I live in Mumbai.
    HSBC: No you don’t. You live in Delhi.
    Me: No, see, here are 4 different independent address proofs with originals.
    HSBC: Sorry. Still Delhi.
    Me: But my office address in YOUR records is Mumbai. That’s one long commute!
    HSBC: Not my problem.
    Me: I’m standing here in Mumbai in your branch!
    HSBC: Dude you got some problem or what? You live in Delhi and that’s where you’re getting your statements, letters, and yes, replacement cards.
    Me: You know what? here’s the final outstanding. Just cancel the card.
    HSBC: No can do. You gotta prove it’s really you who wants to cancel it.
    Me: Ok, what do you need?
    HSBC: Proof of identity and residence.
    Me: Here you go.
    HSBC: Sorry, you’re not you. You actually live in Delhi, not Mumbai. All your address proofs are Mumbai. So we can’t cancel this card.
    Me: Look. HSBC card. Issued by HSBC. In my hands. Here in Mumbai. My name. On the card.
    HSBC: James, throw this young ruffian out and make sure he lands on something sharp.

  5. Vivek

    July 8, 2010

    Post a Reply

    @Ashish – Please tell me/don’t tell me that’s a real life situation.
    @Ankur – One of the links – “now headquartered in London” misdirects to a previous link.

    And I’m sorry to say, Ankur, I am seeing HSBC ads right now. On your blog. :P

  6. Vivek

    July 8, 2010

    Post a Reply

    One more thing to report: your theme doesn’t seem to be vertically aligning emoticons very well.

  7. Ankur

    July 8, 2010

    Post a Reply

    @Saad: Another version showing a sardar lost in Chennai wearing a lungi with copy “Just because you live ABOVE the Tropic of Cancer…”

    @Vadakkus: Any Idea Cellular ad starring Abhishek Bachchan, for instance.

    @A Traveller: HSBC doesn’t have a global hotline to call? Maybe their service is restricted according to longitude, as well as latitude.

    @Ashish: Haha! Unbelievable. Their banking customer services team might have hired expat rednecks too.

    @Vivek: Many people report HSBC ads – even I’m seeing some right now. Fixed the link. Yeah, I know about the emoticons issue, will get around to fixing it sometime.

  8. Bhavika

    July 8, 2010

    Post a Reply

    Newsflash, dear HSBC – no part of India is “below the equator”, definitely no part of India *wear* non-kilt-wearing Punjab da puttars live.

    Where, not wear. Confused me for a second :P

    Understand your antagonism, but might be too harsh. The ad sucks though, big time. Dunno what they were -or weren’t- thinking. Maybe they just reused an ad for another country, only changed the picture, forgot to change the copy. But that’s too far-fetched. They really *can’t* defend themselves.

    On a totally different note, the n|m icon on my browser (chrome) tab disappears whenever I click my mouse button. Reappears when I leave the button. Flickers when I double click.

    It’s downright WEIRD.

    • Ankur

      July 8, 2010

      Post a Reply

      Thanks for pointing out the whereerror, corrected now.

      About the Chrome icon, really?! I tried to replicate the same but it’s just your browser that’s downright weird Bhavika. Mine doesn’t do that. Except when you click on a link, when it does replace the icon with a spinning circle, but that’s standard for all sites.

  9. Grant

    July 9, 2010

    Post a Reply

    I am from Canada, I have (had) saving account with HSBC, I was trying withdraw 10K, so I called the branch to notify them. They told me I can’t. I have to wait a week! But after arguing for some time they told me they will give me half and the rest next week.
    When they realize I am going to transfer the rest of the money to different account without waiting a week. They told me to wait. I waited an hour to get my money. All together it took me two phone calls, 20-30 minutes each. And about an hour to get cash and a lot of stress, thinking that I might lose my money or have to fight for it.

    • Aren’t banks supposed to mandatorily have a minimum amount of cash with them, to accommodate any withdrawal requests from customers? It’s unwarranted for HSBC to put you through so much hassle for withdrawing your own money!

  10. Espèra

    July 10, 2010

    Post a Reply

    Okay this is strange. I replied to your comment, Ankur. And it doesn’t show. So I tried to reply again and it says “Duplicate comment detected.” :|

    • Seems like your comment had gone to the spam queue. Brought it back now. And yeah, WordPress does throw up an error if you type in exactly the same comment more than once.

      As I was saying. I thought this ad was good comedy material, and thus I wrote this blog post. I was motivated enough to do so because such a grossly ‘wrong’ ad is just taking a piss.

      • Espèra

        July 10, 2010

        Yeah your letter was funny, but it seemed in a few places like you were personally getting offended. :P


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