We've had Churchill and meerkats for car insurance and tigers and monkeys for breakfast cereal. Now TSB has launched Tiny The Elephant in a new campaign by McCann London that hopes to reassure people worried about money.
The UK bank's new 'friendly' brand character is based on the premise that the financial "elephant in the room needn't be so scary" as the country faces difficult and uncertain times. It hopes to spread the message that chatting about money with TSB's 'money confidence experts' will help customers feel "more confident with their finances and get more out of life".
Tiny is part of a wider 'Life Made More' brand platform that seeks to help TSB stand out from the competition as the bank "more human than the fintech firms and more personal than the big banks," according to McCann. It also follows ONS research that found 77% of Brits are worried about the rising cost of living, and of these, over half worry nearly every day.
The London agency partnered with John Nolan Studios to create and build Tiny. She is a fabricated puppet filled with animatronics to give realistic facial and trunk movements. Weighing 9.5 kilos and 50cm tall, she required nine puppeteers to steer her on the shoot led by Puppet Captain Robert Tygner.
"As a nation, we find it notoriously difficult to talk about our dosh," says Christopher McKee and Richard Morgan, the masterminds behind the ad. "Once you open up about your money worries, that seemingly overwhelming elephant doesn't seem so scary. Less towering beast over this month's takeaway bills, cuter companion helping you devour some satay sticks.
"Tiny is the best friend you didn't know you needed, inspiring confidence in the face of cost-of-living adversity: a reminder that once you face your fears, they will often feel less daunting and a little easier to manage. Like a tiny elephant."
"This has been the dream opportunity to step back and look directly at our purpose," says Emma Springham, chief marketing officer at TSB. "Our purpose is to help all individuals, existing customers or not...We set out to ensure people know they can turn to us for help if they have money worries, to embrace the elephant in the room that for so many impacts every aspect of their lives including mental health."
McCann was briefed to be brave and bold, to create something "likeable with longevity". Emma adds: "I think Tiny has done just that. We took inspiration from the well-known phrase 'the elephant in the room' and have created a standout brand character that, with any luck, will be with us for a long time to come. This is just the beginning."
Two hero 30-second spots lead the campaign with a voice-over that's light-hearted in its tone of voice, something the agency introduced in 2021 via David Schwimmer. It will be rolled out elsewhere over the coming days, including AV, digital, TikTok and more. Interestingly, media agency the7stars has partnered with Channel 4 to launch Tiny in a creative format, getting the elephant character to interact with the famous Channel 4 blocks during 5-second 'blipverts' across ad breaks. The takeover will feature in three of the broadcaster's most popular peak spots, including Googlebox and Celeb Bake Off.
"As a two-hundred-year-old metaphorical idiom and the proud elephant in the room, I'm often misunderstood," says Tiny. "Luckily, TSB has given me a stage to change all that. I think people will see me in a different light. Quite literally. I look flippin' fantastic on camera."