Digital Eagles Swoop to the Rescue

Digital Eagles Banner

Barclays is ending its sponsorship of Boris Bikes, so what’s its next move? From its latest campaign it seems as if it wants to educate those who don’t know how to use a computer to turn them into experts. Barclays mention “Turning silver surfers into savers”, but the initiative has a much wider remit than this. It doesn’t just focus on online banking, but spans across everything on a computer.

If a person doesn’t know how to log in to Facebook, they can visit a Digital Eagle for help. If a person wants to Skype a loved one, they can visit a Digital Eagle for help. “Keeping up-to-date with technology when you’re older is difficult” is the consumer truth that forms the foundations of this initiative, and there are now over 7,000 Digital Eagles available to help anybody who needs it.

A 2-minute documentary-style film about a man learning to Skype.

The Campaign Details

According to Barclays there are more than 5.1 million people over 65 in the UK who have never been online. To get as many of  these people to use the Digital Eagles service as possible, a series of workshops were launched in Barclays branches in partnership with Age UK. England 1966 World Cup goalkeeper Gordon Banks, a “notorious technophobe”, spearheaded the campaign and vowed to get online with the help of his very own Digital Eagle.

A nation-wide TV campaign has gone live with documentary-style spots created by Pulse Fims which are heavily styled, personable, and designed to raise a smile. I think the format provides a genuine glimpse into people’s lives and how the Digital Eagles scheme could be of benefit to them, and this will sit well with the intended target audience. They tell stories, which makes each film highly engaging and effective.

Digital Eagles

Does It Work?

Does the Digital Eagles initiative truly work alongside the Barclays brand? The scheme has come under criticism from commentators on social media that remark about how it’s a campaign “to make bankers feel better about themselves“, but I disagree with this viewpoint. Even if the scheme is being powered forwards for shrewd business reasons, it doesn’t mean that the idea cannot have real positive effects on the lives of those who use the service.

If Digital Eagles are able to generate an isomorphic response from Barclays’ competitors, I doubt Barclays would cry foul. It’s often the case that suspicions are raised when large corporations display a normative ethical stance in their media communications, but this cynicism isn’t merited in all scenarios.

A Digital Eagles creative showing a man getting to grips with technology.

I think the campaign as a whole is both well-intentioned and brilliantly realised in a creative sense. The documentary-style adverts do manage to tug on heartstrings in a positive way, and any creative that can generate an emotional response is doing something right in my book. It’s obviously hard to figure out the right touchpoints for such a campaign, given the target audience. Using TV and pop-up stalls in areas with high footfall of the target audience is a great way to broadcast out the message.

Using digital is obviously highly counter-intuitive, and OOH may be a touch impersonal. I’m not aware of any print element of this campaign, but this would be an intelligent decision if ads are placed in publications with a high readership of 55+s. Overall, Barclays should persist with the initiative and see if it has a significant impact on brand perception in a few months’ time. If not, its efforts will at least leave a lasting legacy on the lives of families, which is something to be commended for.


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