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I usually keep this channel family-friendly, but ScotiaBank’s recent advertisements have me pretty worked up.  So like my boy Phil Dunphy says – “Why The Face” ScotiaBank?


It was bad enough when they decided their slogan was going to be “You’re richer than you think”.  Given that Canadians are going more and more in debt as a percentage of household income every time they report the numbers, I think this is demonstrably false.  I can understand how a bank might be able to spin things a little bit to make it sort of sound logical though.

I mean, it’s possible that a person might not realize how little growth their investments are seeing given the insanely high MER fees that Canada’s major banks charge on their in-house mutual funds – so maybe the slogan is referring to the fact that if people simply switched out of those retirement investment options, they would in fact be richer than they previously thought.

If you’re not familiar with the slogan, here is an example of the jingle as placed in an ad for their mobile app:




Now, I’ve got nothing particular against ScotiaBank.  I think they have a great credit card option for Canadian students (that I’ll explain more about soon).  They operate one of Canada’s better online banking options in Tangerine (although in light of recent comments on our review page, I’m starting to rethink that assessment).  They seem to do some cool stuff with sponsoring youth sports, and pay to put their name on some other worthwhile charity/non-profit stuff.

Their most recent commercial though left me stunned, before breaking up into laughter.  I don’t mean that in a Millennial I-have-to-type-LOL-at-the-end-of-every-sentence kind of way.  I mean that I physically could not hold back from expressing the comedic ridiculousness of the following new advertisement from SB:



Related: Making Personal Finance Education Personal

Ok, so where to start…

1) Kind of dirty to bring family bonding into this type of situation (re: piling up debt as a young person), but I’m willing to overlook that advertising strategy – all other things being equal – because it’s so common.

2) A nervous young man who looks to be in the 25-30 range comes to you for advice, and you quickly tell him not to save money gradually for a thoughtful gift by budgeting, or explaining the sacrifices he might have to make in order to enjoy said gift.  Instead, you basically tell him to go for it immediately.  Nice problem solving there SB.

3) This is where it gets really good.  The following quote is gold: “So I moved some things around, and saved you $1,500 a year.”  Let me get this straight… What exactly did you move around?  This young fella still has student loans from a private bank (not government student loans – which would be more advantageous for a variety of reasons), what assets did he have to “move around”?!!  Did you open up a line of credit for him?  Did you provide him with a new credit card?  That would explain how $1,500 might fall from the heavens, but it isn’t exactly “saving $1,500 a year”.

4) Our son-of-the-year candidate is understandably happy about the revelation that he is – wait for it – Richer Than He Thinks, but he should actually be kind of upset.  Where was he paying $1,500 before, that he suddenly no longer has to pay?  This nice lady managed to get him $1,500 in like 7.2 seconds, she couldn’t have done that before?!  Furthermore, why stop there?  If that’s what you can find in a few key taps, maybe we had better sit down and have a deeper look at things.

Related: Do We Suck at Personal Finance Because We Suck at Math?

5) “Let us help you, becoming financially new and improved” the friendly neighborhood narrator tells us, as the happy father cranks the tunes and they drive into the mountains.  He is just so happy to be enjoying his son’s increased debt load.  What a great message to be sending to Canadian parents everywhere: If your child is a good one, expect them to borrow money in order to give you the birthday present of your dreams.  Forget the student loans, forget the terrible current job market for Canadian youth, forget saving for a down payment, forget starting your retirement savings.

“It’s mooore than a feeeeeling!”

Come on SB, you should be better than this.  I realize that bank commercials have to present a positive and “sunny ways” side to banking, but this is too far.  The sad reality is that while I (and probably of many of you financial blog readers) find this ad absurd to point of humour, many Canadians do not have the financial education necessary to realize how crazy this stuff is.  Asking a financial institution to make you richer than you think, or to find you $1,500 is illogical, but an attractive siren song to bring in new customers.  With all the resources that SB has at their disposal, I’d like to challenge them to use their advertising budget to push great stuff like this Preet Banerjee snippet that their Tangerine arm put together:

I know that making TFSAs as cool as driving into the mountains with your old man isn’t easy, but I’m sure with all the marketing geniuses you have hanging around you could figure it out SB!

Article comments

BA says:

you’re spot on with your takedown of the SB advertisements. the follow-up ad to the one you focus on is even more ridiculous. the couple with young baby and wife is returning to work. not only is the ‘$1500 from the sky’ notion hilarious (and maddening at the same time!), the husband doesn’t sound very convincing when he says to the baby ‘she’s gonna knock ’em dead isn’t she?’ Scotiabank’s PR people should be fired IMO. Likewise the fatcats at the banks stealing your hard earned money. Right, move some stuff around and hand us $1500! but only if you ask. LOL

Johnny dumont says:

Holy crap! I thought the exact same thing when I first saw it. Why did it take him having to go into the bank for them to save him that money?

mike says:


I found this website showing how the $1500 ads up

Kyle says:

Awesome Mike. I have to admit that you had me going on it when I clicked the link wondering how that could possibly be true. Well done!

Pipe dreams says:

So the Scotia Bank is advertising that ” I moved some things around and saved you $1500 bucks” that they e don’t do the best for you on a continual basis, only when you catch them, or plead for help. Too sad. Not going to be a customer at Scotia.

Too funny (or sad…)! Seems like the Scotiabank ads keep getting worse, I really hated the last one with the young couple magically discovering the money to send the kids to summer camp. You’re right though, this one’s worse. You have to (kind of) feel for the advisors at the bank though that have to deal with people constantly coming in asking for the magic treatment.

Kyle says:

Yeah… what’s really sad is that their massive marketing department has clearly done a lot of research and decided that this is the best way to attract Canadians. Given the money that their pouring into the campaigns they must be seeing a return?

andrew says:

These are the same thoughts I had when I saw the commercial for the first time last week. Glad I’m not the only one.

mack says:

You nailed it. Thanks for doing this!

Kyle says:

NP Mack, thanks for chiming in!

Rob Ormsby says:

I agree this commercial is completely fatuous and puerile. It is also manipulative in that it attempts to establish the misguided notion that banks are our friends. It is not uncommon for advertisers to attempt to establish a link between products and emotions. Only, as you correctly point out in this case, there is no information as to exactly what the “product” was that – supposedly – saved this naive young man $1,500!

Kyle says:

Exactly Rob! Thanks for stopping by.

VanMan says:

My wife and I laugh at this commercial all the time. It’s mind boggling.

Makes me curious if they can tell me how they saved the guy $1500?! Maybe I need to take them my financials and ask them to save me $1500!

Kyle says:

VanMan – why stop there? It only took her a few seconds to save what we can assume is a relatively low net-worth individual $1,500. Given that precedent, they should be able to do much better for most!

Dave says:

Thought I was the only one who thought that commercial was a joke. What about the 1000’s of other Scotiabank clients? Why can’t they move some things around for them and save them all $1,500. Count me in! LOL

Kyle says:

I agree Dave. Maybe I should pitch the idea to SB where they offer to “find” all clients $1,500? I bet you and I would be at the front of the line!

Amy H says:

Thank you! That ad makes me crazy and you spelled out why in a hilarious manner.

Kiki-Mira says:

Yes! Finally someone else who doesn’t see it adding up. My girlfriend went and saw them about finding extra money and the lady did some things and transferred that, my friend signed off to her whole $14/month savings… Or so she thought, she looked in her banking and realized something was wrong with the transferred item, turns out to she was penalized for pulling an RRSP (i think that’s what it was) early to flip it into something else. The penalization amount was around $300 … All to save $14/month. She did go back and fight it but the bank said the paper work she signed off on explained the penalty to her. Needless to say, she’s left SB.

Wes says:

Thank you for this post. This commercial was driving me crazy. Just moving things around gets someone an extra $1500 a year. What a joke.

Joel says:

Bank of Nova Scotia = BNS (also their TSX trading symbol).


Kyle says:

I thought more people would know the entity as ScotiaBank as opposed to the Bank of Nova Scotia Joel. Semantics right?

PJ says:

Keeps it clear for novices like me 🙂

Kyle this is pure gold – I’m actually laughing out loud at my desk right now. I knew I couldn’t be the only one who goes on long rants about the *clearly false and ridiculous* financial advice in TV commercials!

Kyle says:

Thanks Des! Appreciate the support.

spiffi says:

Don’t get me started on TERRIBLE financial advice in advertisements! For months, every morning when I would drive to work, I would hear the same commercial on the radio and every morning I would SNARL at the radio.

The commercial had 2 young men talking – early 20’s – one making fun of the other, who was dressed up as a clown. The clown explained that he was short of cash this month, so he was picking up a job as a clown for a kid’s party.
The first guy, SHOCKED, says “dude, that’s terrible! You own your own car, right?” Second guy “Yeah, so?”
First guy: “You should just get a title loan on your car!”
Second guy: “Ohh, yeah that’s so much better than having to do this demeaning job!”

Me, in car, screaming at the radio: “NOOOOO, you don’t take out a loan on a car that you already paid off, to pay rent! You had the right idea – EARN the money you need, don’t listen to your friend!”

Kyle says:

Wow… that is pretty brutal Spiffi. Sometimes I wonder how this stuff is even legal. Like what level of promises or false inferences do we have to get to before it becomes a crime to misinform folks?

Lucia Mlynar says:

Boys, I’m such a fan of this blog of yours… It’s so empowering and uplifting to see young people that are smart and making wise financial choices.
May you get loads of young followers and fans!

Kyle says:

Thanks Lucia! Appreciate that.