De Niro Pitches Santander's Checking Bonus

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He's talkin' to you.

Robert De Niro appears in a new ad for Santander Bank, the latest instance of a bank using a movie star as a pitchman.

The occasion—introducing consumers to the bank's new name (Santander formerly was known as Sovereign Bank) and rolling out a generous offer for new checking accounts.

In the 60-second spot, De Niro sits next to, and gets on the very last nerve of, an unwitting moviegoer. He makes incessant critiques of his performance in the unnamed movie ("My character's lifeless, lifeless."); takes a cellphone call from his plumber; gets huffy when someone shushes him (you don't want to make De Niro mad); and never shuts up.

"Have you seen this one?" De Niro asks the guy, just after sitting down. "Spoiler alert: everyone dies."

Also along the way, the ad's voice-over narrator helps out with the pronunciation of the new bank name (sahn-tahn-DAIR) and shills for Santander's new "extra20 checking" promotion.

The kicker—anyone who opens a new checking account, uses online bill payments and signs up for direct deposit will receive $20 per month, transferred into a savings account. The offer is available to new and existing Santander (a.k.a. Sovereign) customers.

Santander's yearly savings contribution is limited to $240 and will last as long as the customer remains with the bank.

"Banks have tended to acquire customers by doing one-time cash deposits or bonus rewards," says Alison Rourke, director of consumer banking at Santander. "But it's a one-time payment and, I won't say it's an attempt to buy the customer, as opposed to what we're doing."

Interestingly, De Niro doesn't himself speak the name Santander, nor does he mention the bank's checking account promotion.

Maybe De Niro had a hard time pronouncing Santander. (Don't tell De Niro that we said that.)

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