Who’s smarter, will.i.am or Lady Penelope?

You can’t have missed Parker driving Thunderbirds’ Lady Penelope in a pink Rolls Royce through the streets of Marlow in the recent Halifax banking ads. But you may have overlooked the news that ‘challenger’ bank Atom has hired musician, The Voice star and netpreneur will.i.am as a ‘strategic board adviser’.

The Halifax ads are a big, traditional ad campaign reviving the ghosts of TV series from the childhood past of the target audience, along with Scooby Doo, Top Cat and The Flintstones. (They’re not alone in summoning long-expired TV icons either – you may have seen Skeletor working for Moneysupermarket.)

We’re big fans of will.i.am. Not only is he hugely talented, but he’s built a world-class brand that includes music, technology and philanthropy. It’s made him very rich, and you can be sure he’s not working for Atom for nothing. But what does Atom get from the deal?

Probably more than Land Rover got from hiring Victoria Beckham as a style consultant when it launched the Evoque – it didn’t really need her help to establish its credentials with the smarter sort of Essex driver. No, Atom has chosen well; a famous face who is associated with technology (Atom is the first app-only bank) but who is known as someone who breaks down barriers and challenges convention. He’s also still fairly hip.

The criticism of will.i.am as one of the four mentors on The Voice was that he spreads himself so thin with his many ventures that he didn’t have time to do much actual coaching of his team. So Atom probably shouldn’t expect too much ‘strategic consulting’ either. But simply by endorsing the brand he communicates precisely the ambition, unconventional approach and technological savvy the brand wants to be known for.

Which makes him (and Atom) a lot smarter than Halifax’s expensively revived cartoons and puppets.

Image credit: JStone / Shutterstock.com