Do I want NatWest’s opinion on Cheryl Cole? No. Just like I don’t want Take-a-Break to manage my savings, they’d probably trade in my shares for a pony-trekking holiday in the Shetlands.
Did you know NatWest make their own celebrity magazine? I popped into one of their branches last week to put cash into my friend’s account and was surprised to see Cheryl Cole, beaming at me luxuriously from a magazine stand with ‘NatWest Sense’ printed regally across her forehead.
So NatWest, a bank often labelled as incompetent, unjust and unethical by respectable newspapers, actually boasts its own tailor-made splashy glossy with double-page spreads on how to have a green Christmas! At NatWest one can stand in the soulless cashier queue flicking through photos of people skiing, drinking wine, driving sports cars and sight-seeing in Venice. This is so much more fun than Lloyds TSB where the only in-store visual stimulus is that bloody boring (and worryingly young) widow gallivanting around in her yards of black satin.
For those who do not bank at NatWest and have no reason to step inside their automatic doors, allow me to describe this exciting publication...
So it’s the Christmas 2009 issue (pictured above). Everything is written in white or gold and the cover announces - “Cheryl Cole – Her meteoric rise from Girls Aloud to national treasure”.
This cover line sets a high cliché standard that is upheld through the rest of the magazine...
“meteoric rise” – schoolboy faux-wordplay – TICK
“national treasure” – worn-out journalistic term - TICK
Cheryl Cole – tried-and-tested cover girl – TICK
Stock image – portrait of Cheryl sent by PA - TICK
And depending on your scrutiny you may like to award bonus points for the fact that Cheryl is ever so slightly pixelated and of course smiling. Only real magazines can afford morose cover shots.
Other straplines include “Delia’s Festive Recipes”, “39 Brilliant gift ideas”, “Get away from it all with our city escapes” and “How to survive seasonal stress”. Hmm.
I’m not sure if Sense magazine, which gives itself the banner “HELPFUL WAYS TO SPEND AND SAVE”, uses celebrities and notable personalities who actually bank with NatWest (or more likely the case – NatWest’s exclusive private bank Coutts), but I suspect that they might. If only Sense magazine published bank statements of their celebrity clients, “A.Carr – OddBins – 860.00” , “K.Spacey – Prowler Store – 72.50” etc.
Despite the cover’s promise of “Cool decorations for a tinsel-free home”, the feature on this topic is a complete advertising mess. We all know and accept that magazines thread their articles with advertising, but at least most of them know how to do this with style, subtlety and variety. Out of 30 tree decorations profiled in NatWest’s Sense, no less than nine are from John Lewis and a whopping seven are from Heal’s. They call this “the pick of the latest”. Right.
Before I reach Delia’s recipes, there is a photo of Nigella Lawson pushing her bosoms into a stack of fairy lights, declaring “Christmas lunch is my absolute favourite meal in the world”. Thanks go to NatWest for such a helpful scoop, but we can all guess why Nigella loves Christmas lunch.
And so sitting on a low NatWest sofa beneath a very nauseating fan heater, I finally find the vied-for Cheryl Cole feature, only to discover that there’s absolutely NO fresh material. Disappointingly, the article gives a bland walk through her Wikipedia page, making sure to avoid anything too interesting, while occasionally stealing quotes from old TV shows and even one from her interview with Elle magazine!
I think banks should perhaps stick to banking, and leave magazines to the creative minds and industry professionals. Do I want NatWest’s opinion on Cheryl Cole? No. The magazine’s complete nonsense. Just like I don’t want Take-a-Break to manage my savings, they’d probably trade in my shares for a pony-trekking holiday in the Shetlands.
We’ll do the magazines. You do the maths.
Previous Blog Posts on Cheryl Cole: