International banking giant HSBC has hit back at critics of a globalist marketing campaign blasted as anti-Brexit, insisting that “quintessential Britishness” revolves around importing foreign goods.
After anger on social media over new posters proclaiming that Britain’s is “not an island” and that its national culture is based around buying products from abroad, such as flat-pack furniture and tablet computers, the bank issued a statement reiterating its belief “that the people, communities and businesses in the UK thrive most when connected and open.”
“We believe that the people, communities and businesses in the UK thrive most when connected and open,” the bank insisted.
“Our Global Citizen campaign is central to this, and with the ‘We are not an island’ advert we are reinforcing our strong belief that the things that make us quintessentially British are the things that make us inescapably international,” added a spokesman for HSBC UK.
Together we thrive. pic.twitter.com/KHiPeWzneN
— HSBC UK (@HSBC_UK) January 1, 2019
Critics had warned the multinational financial services provider, which started life as the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, risked alienating customers at a time of globalist efforts to frustrate Brexit.
Right-of-centre politicians including Patrick O’Flynn and Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely were among the figures who slammed the campaign on Twitter:
Really odd and ideologically aggressive advert for HSBC on back of London Evening Standard. Not mentioning any services it offers just declaring "We (ie the UK) are not an island."
We have many international links, but yes we are actually. Glad I am not an HSBC customer.
— Patrick O'Flynn (@oflynnmep) January 2, 2019
— Bob Seely MP (@IoWBobSeely) January 4, 2019
In one widely shared post, which attracted just under 8,000 ‘likes’ on the social media network, ConservativeHome founder Tim Montgomerie pointed to HSBC’s role in the global financial crisis of a decade ago and alluded to an episode involving money laundering and Mexican drug cartels.
“We are an island actually — full of villages and towns your bank deserted; of cleaners you underpaid; and of money laundering and other laws you bent,” he wrote.
“#Brexit etc was a response to the economy you helped decimate. Thanks for the lecture but we’ll manage without it.”
In a 2015 editorial which noted other scandals involving the bank including alleged misselling of PPI and “industrial-scale efforts to cheat the public coffers”, the left-wing Guardian branded the group “a bank beyond shame”.
“The wider consequences of their folly hardly need spelling out: suffice to say that with UK GDP per head still just below its pre-crisis peak, we’re talking seven lost years for Britain.
A spokesman for HSBC denied there was a connection between its campaign and the decision of British voters to leave the EU, however, telling The Drum: “This campaign is not about Brexit. It focuses on the importance of being open and connected to the world.”
But a statement from J Walter Thompson (JWT), the advertising agency behind the campaign, said it sought to “remind people that whatever the political climate, we are global citizens and part of something far, far bigger.”
HSBC — once the preferred bank of Mexican drug cartels — is now selling its client-checking systems to rivals https://t.co/M5XouD6RVv
— Financial Times (@FinancialTimes) August 2, 2018