Betsimpsier! Matt 18 Aug 2005

57 comments Latest by Emma

I guess “now open on weekends” is just too boring for the folks at MB Financial Bank. Instead they’re gunning for worst marketing campaign ever with this one: “Better. Simpler. Easier. Betsimpsier!” And they even have billboards of this crap too. Incredible.

In the press release introducing “Betsimpsier” banking, Mitchell Feiger, President and CEO of MB Financial says, “We have more improvements in various stages of development and testing. When introduced, our customers will further understand just what we are talking about when we say BETSIMPSIER!” Sure they will Mitchell, sure they will.

57 comments (comments are closed)

Dan Boland 18 Aug 05

LOL, I’ve seen the billboards along the Kennedy in Chicago! My first thought was “dude, that’s fuckin’ stupid.”

But I think the title of “worst marketing campaign,” at least among those that are active, has to go to Net10. The commercial is of some woman singing an awful original song (but with total sincerity and earnestness) about Net10. It looks like they filmed it with the cheapest camera they could find.

Brad 18 Aug 05

What’s worse is that they probably paid a few hundred grand to a PR firm to come up with this idea.

Brady Joslin 18 Aug 05

That’s hilarious. What a self-defeating title for branding their services.

I mean, if you are going to make up a word for this type of thing, I would imagine you’d want to cap the syllables at 2. Wasn’t anything learned from VW’s Fahrfegnugen campaign?!

Mark 18 Aug 05


Thanks in part to you Matt, their campaign has now been exposed to 9,751 readers for free, and at least a good fraction of those readers who aren’t in Illinois (like me) who’ve never heard of MB Bank have now been made aware of their services and have visited their website who probably wouldn’t have otherwise.

Goofy slogan? Yes. Stupid marketing? I don’t think so.

Anonymous Coward 18 Aug 05

its a bitches brew. -Hamburger, fries, and a coke are fine on there own I just wouldn’t put them in a blender.

SH 18 Aug 05

Maybe I’m playing devil’s advocate here, but tell me why it’s only ok for new media or web companies to be irreverent or funny, please. I have a hunch that if this were something like Google or whichever the cool-interenet-flavor-of-the-month you want the reaction would be more on the humorous side than the “this is the worst thing ever.”

I think big corporations like banks or healthcare companies and such get the short end of the stick when it comes to what people will accept from their marketing campaigns. True, banking isn’t really that funny or irreverent, but I recall a campaign Washington Mutual did about 6 years ago that was similar to this “Betsimpsier” thing that was really, really funny (and pretty successful). I think people have this knee-jerk reaction whenever suits try and lighten things up to automatically devalue something that probably isn’t so bad after all.

Be honest with yourself: if this wasn’t *a bank* and if it were perhaps a magazine or web-based company, would you still think it’s the worst campaign ever?

Dan Boland 18 Aug 05

Ha ha, and you know all the MB folks just want to puke when they have to say it.

Steve 18 Aug 05

How about a slogan to describe their slogan?

I’m submitting “craptastic” :)

Dan Boland 18 Aug 05

Be honest with yourself: if this wasn�t *a bank* and if it were perhaps a magazine or web-based company, would you still think it�s the worst campaign ever?


Dan Boland 18 Aug 05

Let me rephrase myself, I don’t think it’s the worst campaign ever, but I do think it’s pretty damn awful, regardless of what kind of business it is.

Eamon 18 Aug 05

I’d never heard of this campaign before. I love it.

37signals: Simple. Focused. Free. Simfocree!

Fred 18 Aug 05

Well, it’s lame because its been done. And done betterer. by Miller Lite and Bob Odenkirk:

“It’s a travesty, a sham, and a mockery… it’s a traveshamockery.”

Dan Boland 18 Aug 05

Fred: I was trying to remember that campaign! Yes, this is a much better implementation of word blending for a couple of reasons: 1) Miller Lite’s was a joke, whereas MB’s is completely sincere, and 2) Miller Lite didn’t hang their business on some dopey fake word like MB has.

RS 18 Aug 05

Actually I like it. It’s ridiculous, and ridiculous can be good sometimes.

Tommy 18 Aug 05

Advertising should either help build a brand or drive leads Mike. I’ve never bought into the thought that “bad PR is better then no PR.” This does neither, even if 37 Signals talks about it.

Do you think I am going to walk into MB Financial Bank and ask for Betsimpsier banking? Give me a break. There is a fine line between clever and just plain stupid.

David 18 Aug 05

It reminds me of the current Taco Bell commercial. Crunchy, Chewy, Cheesy… Cruncheweesy.

There are plenty of others.

Brian 18 Aug 05

Now I could never take them seriously or anything (not that I did before). Maybe if I were stoned it would be fun to say. It’s so, so awful, you can’t help but feel kinda sorry for ‘em.

Vaughn 18 Aug 05

That Betsimpsier pdf on it’s main page crashed not only Firefox, but also Adobe Reader, Microsoft Error Reporting, and a second not responding Error Reporting.

Thanks guys!

Ben 18 Aug 05

So let’s see…

“MB Financial: Better. Simpler. Easier.”
Remembered by: 0 people. Talked about by: 0 people. Seen as another boring statement under a bank logo and/or another shallow corporate mission statement that every bank says and can see right through.

“MB Financial: Betsimpsier!”
Remembered by people, talked about amongst people, getting people to go to their website.

Hardly the worst marketing campaign ever.

SH 18 Aug 05

“Actually I like it. It�s ridiculous, and ridiculous can be good sometimes.”

I agree.

Mark 18 Aug 05

Tommy -

I think you’re addressing my comment (name’s Mark, not Mike).

Anyway, I think you need to make a better distinction between “bad” PR and just plain silly PR.

Bad PR has negative connotations associated with it. Coming up with a mashed up word is not going to cause customers to leave or prevent new customers from arriving. It is, however, going to get the name “MB Bank” on the forefront of folks minds and conversations for a while. Which, without the bad PR factor, is always a good thing.

I think as silly as it might be, it still has some level of endearing quality. Kind of like the “bubble headed bleach blonde” (Don Henley’s term - not mine) we’ve all known at one time or another. Silly - yes, irratating at times - yes, naive - yes, harmful - no.

Brady Joslin 18 Aug 05

Hmm…so, I guess we could chalk up the latest worm affecting Microsoft systems to great marketing. Hey, it got their name in out there!

Plus, people don’t want their bank to be humorous and cute, they want it to be reliable and secure.

Michael Moncur 18 Aug 05

Shame. Everybody knows the way to get away with stuff like this is to be ironic and meta. Show the suits on TV coming up with “Betsimpsier”, then interrupt them with a slogan like “Our ads are stupid, but our banking is brilliant.”

Tommy 18 Aug 05

Sorry Mark. I shouldn’t try to work and post at the same time. I agree silly PR like this is way diferent then bad PR like news that they got hacked (of course this didn’t happen, just an example).

I also don’t expect customers to leave. But I do think it can cause people to not choose them. When I moved to a really small rural town a few years ago I was looking for a bank. One of the many in town had a sign outside that said “we now offer Internet banking.” That message might have worked for some, but as a guy that works for a virtual company it made them think they were idiots. You have to be careful w/ your marketing message when you a hospital, bank, or other firms.

Now I feel for their ad agency. Marketing a bank, beer, or a car is tought work. I mean new ideas must be tough. But that campaign just plain sucks.

Ken Meyers 18 Aug 05

Well, it’s obviously doing it’s job because it’s caught all of your attention, and got blogger cred. Success!

Justin P 18 Aug 05

Totally ricockulous

Ian Ashley 18 Aug 05

I agree - the Miller Lite campaign was the only word mashup advertising that really stuck with me. Perhaps only because it poked fun at it.

Darrel 18 Aug 05

Yes, it’s stupid. Like nearly every marketing campaign out there. This one just got people talking more.

Speaking of bad/stupid/asinine marketing, nothing trumps Qwest’s latest TV ads:

Yes, we really do suck

Jared Christensen 18 Aug 05

I read this post and all the comments and I went to the bank’s website. Yet as of this moment I don’t remember how to spell, let alone pronounce, whatever that invented word is. And I have no desire to reinvestigate. It’s too abstract. There’s nothing catchy about it. It’s completely forgettable.

Bob 18 Aug 05

Hmm… is ‘MB’ short for ‘Milton Bradley?’

“It’s Betsimpsier! The new word mashup game for the whole family!” (Ages 6 and up). Comes with everything you see here. Batteries not included. By Milton Bradley.”

Sorry, that was stupid.

sixtoe 18 Aug 05

I see the sun in the sky every day, but that doesn’t make me an expert on nuclear fission. I read about politicians in the paper every morning, but that doesn’t necessarily make me a trusted authority on politics.

Look we all see a lot of ads every day. And opinions on marketing are a dime a dozen. But how many of those opinions are qualified? Very few, I’m afraid.

Dave Strus 18 Aug 05

I’m not sure it’s any more asinine than the McDonald’s Arch Deluxe campaign back in, I believe, 1997.

They had billboards showing kids expressing their disgust with the taste of the new sandwich. The idea was that it was an adult sandwich—far too sophisticated for children to appreciate.

What most people took away from it was that the sandwich is revolting.

JohnnyOnTheSpot 18 Aug 05

Oh yeah people are talking. Thats ALWAYS good news for a company. Like “Hey, that car company makes cars that explode.” and “Yeah, thats the fast food place with rat turds in the burgers.” Please. I cannot believe that the strategy for this campaign was to fill chat boards with comments about how stupid this ad campaign is. Oh look, I’m “helping” MB even more by posting.

Don Wilson 18 Aug 05

almost as bad as a company that develops a popular framework for ruby uses PHP for their blogging software.

Eddie Fenster 18 Aug 05

Have you heard the radio commericals for this thing? They actually poke fun at themselves in a very broad way. Whether the billboards work is one thing, but the radio is funny.

Dan Berkman 18 Aug 05

It’s just the kind of thing you can imagine some guys in a late night office session coming up with when they ran out of ideas. But the thing that really gets me is that it’s really hard to read. Seriously, I have a college education and I find myself tripping over my own tounge to pronounce this twisted car wreck of a word. Is it BETsimsier or betSIMPsier? Seriously people it’s not a terrible idea, it’s a terrible word. It sounds like someone saying something normal but just sped up 10 times.

I’ve seen these new taco bell commercials where three office workers come up with word mash-ups to describe the taco bell food,”cruncheweesy” is one example(and my personal fav), but at least their words are sort of pronouncable and I can tell what the component parts are. Here I just stare at my screen until a puddle of drool forms by my keyboard and I give up.

Doug 18 Aug 05

It’s cute and got you to show it to hundreds of people who would have never even heard it.

Ian Ashley 18 Aug 05

Don Wilson,

You can’t be serious? As far as I understand they developed RoR because it increased their productivity on projects they were doing. I don’t see blogging software anywhere in their offering of products. Why be an ass?

JuSouBad 18 Aug 05

The idea isn’t that novel anymore, and I certainly don’t think it’s any stupider than any of the other examples cited.

However, the word fragments just don’t gel that well. I don’t have a better idea, but I’m pretty certain people responding to this differently than Miller Lite or Taco Bell’s word mash-ups are reacting simply to the lame cadence/melody of the word.

It just sounds bad. Is that okay?

Instead of the usual suspects dragging it down, why not provide your best word mash-up based on the words provided or closely related synonyms. Sound good? Good. Now go.

Don Wilson 18 Aug 05

Ian Ashley, it’s called marketing their product (like what this entry is talking about). They developed it and live up to it in their services - why can’t they use it for a simple blog?

Mic 18 Aug 05

check out - the ad is hilarious!!!

anonymoose 18 Aug 05

No less than a month ago I read somewhere here from one of the svn guys that 37 relies on buzz marketing. I’d love to quote it, but I can’t find a search field and damned if I’m going to dig through the bajillion articles in the archives. Regardless, it’s not missed that a company relying on buzz marketing is busting on another company using buzz marketing, to, it would seem, increase their own buzz. At least the bank had the b*lls to tell us what “Betsimpsier!” means instead of tossing us a thumbnail-sized screengrab.

Jeff 18 Aug 05

crappy. awful. terrible.


Jeff Hartman 18 Aug 05

I just opened an account after reading this post because of all this publicity (really, 9000 readers from the svn blog is about as big as the whole state of Illiana).

But now I’m screwed. They called my account a “Checkavingscard.”

I don’t know what the hell that means.

Michael Ward 19 Aug 05

Thanks for the relevant links Ruben ;) Now that’s marketing!!

Paul Bartlett 19 Aug 05

Reminds me of the ill-thought out evolution of the Honeywell ads:

“Designed well. Built well. Honeywell.” became
“Designed well. Built well. Bull-Honeywell.” which became
“Designed well. Built well. Bull.”

Keane 19 Aug 05

My problem with Betsimpsier! is that the first syllable, Bet!, is a real word, and one with connotations that I don’t particularly want to associate with my bank.

But as a marketing campaign? It makes me think ‘er, what does Betsimpsier! mean?’ so I went to their website, and I had a look at their bumph and PDFs (which didn’t crash Firefox or IE or Windows or anything for me). And they explain a bit more about what MB are trying to do to make banking Better. Simpler. Easier. If they do actually do what they’re saying they’ll do (have people available all the time, make banking simpler and easier), then I’m all for that.

And if some ridiculous slogan gets people’s attention (which it has), and if some of those people are the kind of people that think ‘hey, I want my banking to be easy and simple’, then the marketing works.

In the UK, Natwest are currently (and have been for a while) pushing this ‘person, not a robot, on the end of the phone’ marketing line, they just don’t have a silly word for it.

Brad 19 Aug 05

If I were a bank, I’d spend my money making sure I had the most competitive services and lowest fees, and use those features to attract customers. As a potential customer, when I see a bank resorting to cute (or lame) marketing slogans my reaction is that they must be trying to compensate for uncompetitive products and services. If they have to resort to slogans, they must not be offering a good enough deal to be competitive on their own merits.

Dan Boland 19 Aug 05

I think the biggest problem is that I don’t see how buzz campaigns really work with a bank, if buzz is their intention. It’s not like if Burger King comes up with some dumb gimmick (oh wait, like for their chicken fries), then one could say “okay, I’ll try the chicken fries.” But people don’t just “try” a bank. Unless you’re disgruntled with your current bank, you won’t just up and switch banks, regardless of how much buzz a slogan could create.

Stephen 19 Aug 05

Okay, this is kinda off on a tangent. But my favourite badly thought out marketing campaign was Sainsbury’s move from tired browns to orange and blue. This was accompanied by the following written outside stores.

welcome to
the new Sainbury’s

This was against a fiery orange background, presumably oranges. Unfortunately they had a slight implementation problem. The white text was stuck on using vinyl stickers. And so quickly became,


the new Sainsbury’s

Still set against a fiery orange background. They’ve had my patronage ever since.

Brian 20 Aug 05

“It’s a great ad because people are talking about it! “

But they’re not talking about it in a positive way at all. They’re making fun of it. If this ad was the silly type that was supposed to run a few times to make people say “my, what a silly ad,” it might be brilliant, but this wasn’t that kinda ad. They’re serious, and that’s pathetic.

Simon 20 Aug 05

And it looks like the slogan was mostly stolen from a South African bank who have had ‘Better, Simpler, Faster’ for a few years now (Standard Bank)

Scott 22 Aug 05

Haha, that’s some funny stuff. I’m not sure I can even pronounce it properly.

I’m no marketing guru, but I guess in a way it’s worked since we’re all talking about it.

Emma 12 Sep 05

The thing is - I would never have even considered MB Bank if I hadn’t seen this goofy slogan. Yes, my first thought also was “that’s dumb.” But I like the idea that they’re offering simple banking. And I’ll think about them if I decide to leave Chase. I wouldn’t have considered MB before.

And we’re all talking about it.