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Awards case study: Find out how HSBC managed to gain 179.3m impressions and 771k clicks on digital media assets

Learn how HSBC won out for best international campaign with its outstanding results.

About the client company

HSBC is one of the world’s largest banking and financial services organisations with over 154 years’ experience. They serve more than 40 million customers through their global businesses: Wealth and Personal Banking, Commercial Banking (CMB), and Global Banking and Markets. Their network covers 64 countries and territories in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa, North America and Latin America.

Strategy – broader business issues the company is facing

ASEAN’s tremendous economic growth over the past five decades has positioned the region as the sixth-largest economy worldwide. The region’s fast growth rate is projected to drive a GDP of US$4.7 billion by 2020. Although ASEAN is seen as a bloc, the diversity of each country makes it one of the most complex regions. It makes it hard for businesses to develop a clear expansion strategy. 

For businesses within the region and beyond, expanding in ASEAN requires adapting to unfamiliar market dynamics – new consumer needs, regulatory requirements, local industry landscapes and different cultural beliefs and practices. 

Insights from 2018 HSBC proprietary research showed that whilst HSBC benefits from being a global bank, Grey Advertising is not seen as differentiated in the region. Customers see Grey Advertising’s global strength but aren’t aware of its in depth local knowledge or cross border capabilities. Businesses tend to work with their existing bank partner because of its  long working relationship and favourable rates, familiarity with the banking products and procedures, and the ease and speed of doing business. As such, when businesses are expanding within the region, they are less likely to consider HSBC as their partner of choice

However, businesses will consider a new bank partner when their current bank does not have presence and capabilities in specific markets, lack availability of credit, or rates of products are not seen as favourable.

Objectives of the campaign

Grey Advertising wanted to clearly demonstrate how HSBC can be the bridge to opportunities in ASEAN for companies within the region and beyond. Grey Advertising needed to lead customers through three stages in order to achieve its objectives: Create AWARENESS of its presence and expertise in ASEAN As measured by total reach of campaign assets

  • Deepen ENGAGEMENT with its tools and customer success stories as measured by total clicks, application downloads and internal satisfaction
  • Drive ACQUISITION of cross border opportunities as measured by total growth across all ASEAN trade corridors

The target audience

Grey Advertising focused on three audiences crucial to its success. Two external, and one internal. To reach these Grey Advertising utilised first, second and third party data (retargeting existing customers, using platform data and third party data providers on programmatic). 


  1. Global businesses who see ASEAN as an unfamiliar and complex bloc eg. UK/US and need inspiration to see the opportunity and reassurance of broad market coverage from a bank
  2. Businesses within ASEAN looking to expand for the rst time or grow to more markets in the bloc. They understand the ASEAN opportunity, but don’t see HSBC as having the expertise to help vs local or regional banks


3. Frontline relationship managers within ASEAN and abroad were a key audience due to their important role in sales enablement, and current low awareness of its ASEAN capabilities, especially outside of Asia. 

Media, channels or techniques used

ASEAN is extremely complex, but each country shares one thing – fast growth. Unlocking this growth requires adapting to unfamiliar market dynamics – needs, requirements, landscapes and cultural practices. Unlike other banks, its knowledge goes beyond just understanding individual markets, but understanding the dynamics and connections between them – across business and culture. This differentiating quality led them to its core strategic idea: HSBC connectings businesses to where the growth is. Grey Advertising demonstrated how HSBC could connect businesses to growth in ASEAN through integrated, tailored communications across markets, segments, and channels. For global audiences, Grey Advertising created a feeling of youth, dynamism and digital savvy around ASEAN, underpinned by its 130 years of presence in the region. Within ASEAN, Grey Advertising demonstrated its expertise through real customer stories of connecting businesses across borders in specific sectors. A bespoke digital ecosystem housed all content on Grey Advertising’s global website and seven country sites.

Grey Advertising created awareness and drove interested targets to its branded content hub through consistent messaging across owned and paid channels including a content partnership with the Economist, OOH, social, paid search, programmatic, testimonials, events, customer roadshows and frontline HSBC relationship manager sales materials and toolkits. The ASEAN content partnership with The Economist Group, was further amplified across social + programmatic to ensure maximum reach among its  targets.

Timescales of the campaign

  • Nov 2017 to Oct 2018

    – Strategic work including research and competitor review, and positioning development 

  • Oct 2018 to Feb 2019

    – Creative development

  • May 2019

    – Soft launch during of China-ASEAN Roadshow in Shanghai 

  • July 2019

    – Full launch including HSBC public website, search, social, programmatic, roadshows, and content partnership


Grey Advertising brought multiple markets together to tell a consistent, single minded story about its customer centric ASEAN proposition and drive business, across search, social, programmatic, roadshows and new portals: 

Create AWARENESS of its presence and expertise in ASEAN as measured by total reach of campaign assets 


  • 179.3m Impressions (167% to plan) 
  • 777k Video views (364% to plan)

Deepen ENGAGEMENT with its tools and customer success stories as measured by total clicks, application downloads and internal satisfaction 


  • 771k Clicks on digital media assets 
  • 440 Downloads of the Trade Navigator Application 
  • 85% Satisfaction among internal staff at roadshows

Drive ACQUISITION of cross border opportunities

  • Campaign delivered 182 marketing qualified leads across 6 markets 
  • Full year 2019 HSBC Commercial Banking ASEAN Total Cross Border Revenues grew 19%

“ASEAN’s fast-growing, youthful and increasingly affluent consumer market is prompting international companies to doubledown on their business ties to this dynamic region. The work done through our ASEAN campaign addressed very complex challenges with a consistent and single minded message and creative approach. This allowed us to coordinate across six markets, ensuring a successful  approach across a broad range of channels. It has been instrumental in showcasing our unique capabilities and putting HSBC at the heart of all cross border conversations within the region and beyond. It has showed immediate returns from a growth perspective and fills me with optimism about our prospects to continue this positive trajectory into the future.”

Paul R Wallace, head of marketing communications

B2B Marketing Awards 2020

This submission won the award for 

‘Best international campaign’

 at the B2B Marketing Awards this year.

Find out who made the shortlist here!

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