What's in a slogan for the bank that likes to scream 'Help'...?
NORTHERN ROCK, the aggressive UK lending bank, used to promise amongst its sales slogans that "If you need some cash – you've got it."
Savers queuing outside its branches might see an irony there today. So now Northern Rock's website goes with a simpler – if less sexy – unique selling point:
Okay, so it won't win any marketing awards in Soho next month, but it will come as a relief to the bank's small-time private creditors. Right?
Click through from there, however, and savers hoping the bank might rein in its own borrowing after needing a bail-out from the Bank of England and a complete guarantee from the UK government that their money is safe are in for a shock.
"Looking for a loan?" asks the bank that was effectively nationalized by the UK government on Monday night.
"You’ve got it with a low rate unsecured loan."
Northern Rock grew its mortgage book by 43% in the first half of this year. So maybe it's reined in its mortgage lending? Hmmm...not yet. If you need a mortgage to buy "a place of your own...somewhere bigger perhaps, with extra cash and great deals..." then look no further than Northern Rock.
Of course, "your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage." But what if your bank doesn't keep up ITS repayments on your mortgage?
What happens then? So far in this global credit crunch, it looks like the government has to step in to guarantee savers that they'll get their money back.
The Bank of England had already offered to underwrite Northern Rock's loan book...accepting outstanding mortgages as collateral for its emergency support as "lender of the last resort".
Perhaps Northern Rock's marketing team – if they've still got jobs today – might like to recall the old TSB catchline:
Northern Rock – the bank that likes to scream "Help!"