NatWest & ITV: backing the businesses that will build tomorrow

A creative partnership between the nation’s biggest bank and biggest commercial broadcaster to support the UK’s SMEs, supercharged by the irrepressible energy of Alison Hammond, which grew NatWest account openings by 9.4% and generated over 245 advertising enquiries for ITV.

A little background

The end of 2021 finally felt like the nation could begin to move on from Covid. But if you were a small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) the recovery was far from plain sailing. Many SMEs were in turmoil and had little idea of how to access much-needed financial and business support.

This would be a critical problem for the nation as well as the businesses themselves, since it is the energy and progressive vision of the UK’s smaller businesses that drive the economy overall. Enter Backing Business: an innovative partnership between NatWest – the UK’s biggest bank – and ITV - the nation’s biggest commercial broadcaster – designed to give UK businesses the helping hand they needed to thrive in post-pandemic Britain.

Our insight

We knew that the collective and complementary power of two of the nation’s biggest and most respected brands was unrivalled. The resulting unique partnership could celebrate the role of SMEs and offer them meaningful support to grow their business.

The big idea

Backing Business is a dual-branded initiative which brings the unique expertise of each brand together to support SMEs. NatWest provided training and coaching for business owners through their Business Builder programme as well as market leading financial services. ITV match-funded NatWest’s media investment to bolster the campaign’s reach and provided a £1m fund for first-time advertisers and creative production support to help them build their business through TV advertising.

The partnership is brought to life creatively using a campaign created by Pablo called The Intern, which draws on ITVs much-loved Alison Hammond and the warmth and charm of our brand, while showcasing the amazing support provided to SMEs by NatWest.

Making it happen

The intrepid Alison was sent to uncover the tales of six businesses who’d benefitted from NatWest’s support, including a slate mine that pivoted to an outward-bound adventure centre; a macaroon company that recruits disadvantaged youngsters to work as chefs; and a potato farmer fanatical about his product.

Each of them put Alison to work, letting her try her hand at typical intern tasks from making macaroons to doing the tea round. The dual branding of the campaign increased credibility and salience, creating an unusually creative B2B campaign. But the creativity wasn’t just in the creative treatment, it was in the media laydown itself.

To give the campaign a documentary editorial feel, the media was planned like a mini-series, with 90-sec hero spots in high-profile cultural moments including The Pride of Britain Awards and an Audience with Adele. Off-air, the campaign was supported through digital, outdoor, radio and owned media.


The call to action encouraged SMEs to find out more via both brands’ websites.

A test in Bristol explored the impact of combining national media with handpicked Bristolian media to leverage our love of ‘localism’.

We're very proud that the campaign won two MediaWeek awards on the Media Idea & Best Use of Content categories. 


The results

No. 1 The 3 national ads were the top-performing in the finance sector in terms of creative effectiveness

+210% Branded search increased by 210%

+70% Clickthrough rates increased by 70% in Bristol

+0.43 ppts NatWest was the only bank to increase B2B market share and did so by 0.43 ppts

+9.4% Account openings increased by 9.4%

245 ITV had over 245 enquiries about the SME ad fund

NatWest's partnership with ITV really is a case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. Bringing together the complementary strengths of our two national brands in 'The Intern' created a highly engaging campaign with impressive results for NatWest as well as providing the nation’s SMEs with much needed support to grow their own businesses. Margaret Jobling, Chief Marketing Officer, NatWest

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