Cannes Lions

Tomorrow Begins Today


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For a decade, NatWest was out-innovated by Neobanks and out-spent by Highstreet rivals, seeing brand consideration and market share eroded. Getting back to growth meant winning with u35s – the audience most likely to switch. But to them, NatWest was as an outdated bank ‘like any other’. We need to change that.

We needed to get back on their radar talking to them in the places and spaces that they were. We needed to talk to them in a new way, a way that drove reappraisal of NatWest and created consideration.


Lockdown was over, but the negative impact from the pandemic had hit our target audience, the under 35s, the hardest. Set against a backdrop of bleak news stories, a worsening cost of living crisis, and murmurs of an impending recession, we needed to inspire a generation paralysed with inaction and cut through the passive ‘we’re here to help’ noise from our rivals. So we launched ‘What You Waiting For?’ - a positive, motivational shot in the arm of energy and action. Using Gwen Stefani’s track of the same name, we wanted to show up in an unexpected, un-banky way with content creators inspiring a generation, setting the tone for a punchy, feel good campaign, instead of a bank talking down to them. It was time to wake the nation up.


While our target audience was under 35s, brand tracking told us that under 25s were the hardest group to crack. They had the lowest affinity and consideration for the brand. They’re also the hardest to reach by conventional ATL channels. If we were going to win with them, we needed to go to them and what better place than TikTok, the fastest growing platform for under 25s.

What we didn’t want to do is to whack our TVC on the platform. We knew we needed to create content that tapped into native behaviours, creating TikToks not ads. So we researched the content that was engaging this audience the most and settled on a hashtag challenge as the best way to combine reach and engagement.

From here we worked with TikTok directly finding five top UK influencers with high engagement rates and broad appeal with our target audience.


We threw out the financial services rule book when NatWest kicked off the ‘What You Waiting For’ campaign with a bang on TikTok, as the first ever High Street bank to launch a hashtag challenge.

Five popular TikTok influencers kicked off the challenge. Built from native TikTok behaviours, it combined the power of a banging track (What You Waiting For by Gwen Stefani) with the popular TikTok trend of ‘before & after’ stories. We created our own instantly recognisable intro to follow - a simple left to right eye movement set to the ticking clock intro on the track - before creators revealed their unique stories of smashing their goals as the lyrics kick in.

The simple but effective structure, paired with our creators' unexpected stories inspired others to do the same, and got NatWest trending for the first time ever.


The results speak for themselves. Our TikTok challenge and supporting ads took off successfully engaging millions of under 35s. We even got NatWest trending…not bad for an ‘old school’ bank.

In total the campaign produced:

• 6 billion hashtag views

• 107M UK engagements within the first 6 days

• 52% increase in ad recall

• 14% increase in favourability towards the brand

• 7.1M reach, 5M views and 26K likes (Top view)

• 5.3M reach, 2.3M views and 29K likes (Top feed)

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