Banks that have been offering mobile banking for some time are looking for ways to extend adoption. At Capital One (COF), the efforts include the unlikely participation of a U.K. "power metal" band called DragonForce in a new web video-dominated ad campaign.

The band is featured in a series of videos that are designed to demonstrate how easy it is to use mobile banking. Members of DragonForce play guitar with one hand while using a mobile banking app in the other (although the two activities are shown in different windows).

The ads demonstrate the challenge and opportunity of mobile banking. The channel can deliver a wide range of services remotely — everything from transfers to check deposit. But at the same time, consumers expect a certain level of function and a cool factor. Selling mobile banking requires a bank to convey utility, buzz and two-way engagement. "People are more demanding of mobile, they demand an anytime anywhere experience, so the banking application has to meet that demand," says Pat McLean, vice president of digital brand strategy for Capital One.

Capital One currently has about 5 million mobile banking customers and is among a number of large banks that are looking to expand their mobile banking customer base.


The new, irreverent web video ads, which were produced by R/GA, a New York-based digital advertising agency, include a nightclub DJ wearing a unicorn mask and club-goers dancing while using the mobile banking app. Another ad features a ventriloquist singing REO Speedwagon's "Can't Fight This Feeling" through a dummy while performing mobile banking. The advertisements include information on what financial services are available and how mobile banking works. The web video ads debuted near the end of December and in a few days garnered more than 130,000 views.

"The ads show people in fun scenarios while they are engaged with the mobile banking app. It's a showcase about saving money and performing banking in everyday life," McLean says.

The campaign also includes a contest in which people can submit what they can do while also using mobile banking. The winner will be part of another web video. "We feel the use of web oriented video was a great match for [mobile banking]… there's a playfulness to it," McLean says.

Capital One also uses humor in some of its television ads for other financial products. DDB Worldwide, a Chicago-based agency, has produced those ads, including the spots with Jimmy Fallon and the baby who won't accept higher cash refunds for credit card purchases.

While a number of banks are advertising mobile features on television, particularly mobile remote deposit capture, McLean says that advertising mobile banking requires a different strategy than traditional TV and print spots — one that's more interactive with the audience and uses digital channels to better convey the portability of mobile banking.

"It's hard to convey the power of the mobile banking experience in a television ad. We want to use a forum where you can show how the product actually works, and the digital venue is the gateway to do that. The other part of it is when you demonstrate that you are where the customers are…and we tailor our mobile banking advertising approach to match that," McLean says.