Shock! A bank using humour in its ads

Financial firms are not normally known for being funny in their marketing, writes Campaign editor Justin Harper

When it comes to banks and financial firms, humour isn’t a word you’d normally associate with their ad campaigns.

However, UK online bank Monzo is winning fans (and customers) by using funny memes, cheeky social media posts and a chatty tone of voice.

This approach is very different to the often dry and dull marketing and social media seen from financial brands.

Monzo’s approach seems to be working and it has become very popular among the Gen Z audience, a segment that makes up almost 40 per cent of the global consumer population,

The bank said it expects to reach full profitability by the end of 2024. And with nine million UK customers, that makes it the UK’s largest digital bank.

Challenger brand

A challenger brand, a new entrant in a sector dominated by behemoths, has something to prove. To be a successful and effective challenger brand you must be both creative in your ideas. Monzo has taken that to heart.

Founded in 2015, Monzo uses humour across all its touchpoints with customers to differentiate itself from competitors and offers something different to what’s already on the market.

The online bank’s friendly, approachable tone of voice on its website extends to all its social media channels, most of all TikTok.

Being on top of the latest news enables Monzo to jump on trends fast, using popular keywords and hashtags which are designed to generate more views, engagement and brand awareness.

For TikTok, Monzo focuses on its own branded hashtags, as well as #moneytok (the TikTok niche it is targeting), and other hashtags depicting the bank’s main content pillars (#money, #spending, #budget).

Fashion statement

From the start, Monzo wanted to stand out from the crowd and designed a brand that did just that, including a now iconic coral neon credit card.


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It wanted its cards to be seen as fashion statements – to prompt people to ask “What is that?” when a customer pulled one out to pay at a restaurant or store.

Most credit and debit cards come in very ‘safe’ blacks and dark blues, but Monzo made its cards bold and distinctive.

AJ Coyne, vice-president of marketing for Monzo, called its coral-coloured card a “secret weapon” in its recognisability.

Word of mouth marketing has been a powerful tool and most of Monzo’s traffic is organic, it says.

On TikTok its fans and followers have grown into hundreds of thousands, helped by creating memes about trending topics – from ‘zilennial’ shopping habits to money-saving tips.

Plans for expansion into the US are on the cards and in its home market of the UK,  the goal is to grow customer numbers “substantially” this year.

It’s a marketing case study not just for other challenger brands, but to traditional ones too.

Mike Khouri, CEO and founder of Tactical, is a fan of the bank’s style of marketing.

“Monzo has been brilliant at identifying an underserved audience, understanding them deeply and finding ways to be relatable. They meet them where they play and speak their language.”

“They’ve also been comfortable with being bold and taking risks, which when it comes to finance as an industry, has historically been played pretty safe. When others were zigging, they zagged.

“And the outcome? They’ve built genuine brand love with their audience, and converted that into business results that now makes them a serious player in their category.”