More and more, bank television advertising seems aimed at communicating not just a pledge for better service, but true service zeal.

[Expanded Picture]Texas Commerce Bank has a new campaign featuring what the bank calls "Star Treatment," where customers get speedy responses to problems after calling bank representatives. One call comes from a woman aboard a plane who realizes her wallet is missing. A TCB service rep fielding the call swiftly accesses the woman's account and finds the thief is trying to withdraw money from it; the rep quickly closes the account as the ATM seizes the card and flashes the message: "They can do that by phone?"

In the New York area, NatWest Bank offers a series of ads featuring individual customer-friendly bankers. One woman branch manager, hearing about a harried new mother, drives to her house to open an account. In another spot, a pair of veterinarians get commitment for a business loan in 48 hours.

Then there are ads that imply superior service by lampooning other, unnamed banks. Glendale Federal Bank in California has a series of spots in which tellers at a sort of Orwellian megabank pretend to be flower pots, disappear beneath the counter, even trigger an alarm that closes the bank--anything but respond to routine customer requests, like an explanation of an apparent balance discrepancy.

Skewering indifferent bank service may strike a chord with consumers--as long as they don't see it as merely the pot calling the kettle black.

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