Adverts for Nationwide featuring actor Dominic West have been banned for misleading consumers, after claiming the bank would not be closing its branches.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) investigated the TV, radio and press ads, in which West plays the boss of a fictional rival of Nationwide, following 282 complaints.

One of the complaints came from rival bank Santander, who challenged whether the adverts were misleading.

In the television ad, West, who recently played Prince Charles in The Crown, jokes about a large expenses bill for a company lunch before going on to talk about cutbacks and closing the branch.

East London Advertiser: Adverts for Nationwide featuring actor Dominic West have been banned for misleading consumersAdverts for Nationwide featuring actor Dominic West have been banned for misleading consumers (Image: ASA/PA)

When a colleague says that Nationwide – seen from their window over the road – is not closing branches, West replies: “We’re not Nationwide, are we?”

A voiceover at the end says: “Unlike the big banks, we’re not closing our branches,” while on-screen text reads: “Publicly shared branch closures at Lloyds, bank of Scotland/Halifax, Natwest, Barclays, Santander and HSBC.”

The radio ad featured a similar conversation, with the colleague saying: “Boss, news from Nationwide,” and “They’ve just confirmed they’re keeping branches open,” before a voiceover said: “Unlike the big banks, we’re not closing our branches.”

The press ad featured the text: “Going, Going, Nowhere” and “Unlike the big banks, we’re not closing our branches”. Small print at the bottom of the ad said: “If we have a branch in your town or city, we’ll still be there until at least 2026.”

Nationwide said it launched its original ‘Branch Promise’ in 2019 not to leave a town or city where there was no other Nationwide branch, and strengthened this in 2023 to guarantee they would not close any of their branches until at least 2026.

The bank told the ASA they had closed 20 branches in the last 18 months, including two in 2023, but had the largest remaining number of branches of 10 banks and had closed the smallest percentage of its estate.

They also supplied an article from consumer magazine Which?, that recommended Nationwide as a building society for consumers who still valued face-to-face contact.

The ASA said it understood that in the 12 months before the ad campaign, Santander had closed fewer branches than Nationwide and, at the time the ad was seen, Santander had not announced that they would be closing branches in the future.

The ASA said: “We acknowledged that over a 10-year period, in comparison to other financial institutions, Nationwide had closed the smallest percentage of any financial institution’s estate.

“However, we noted that they had nevertheless closed 20% of their estate, which equated to 152 branches, and we considered that was a significant number that had been permanently closed.

“Because we considered that consumers would understand from the ads that Nationwide would not be closing branches in the long-term future and that they had not recently closed branches, we concluded that the ads were misleading.”

The watchdog ruled that the ads must not appear again in their current form, adding: “We told Nationwide Building Society not to mislead in relation to the closure of their branches.”

A Nationwide spokesman said: “We recognise the ASA’s decision and are delighted to have the opportunity to make even clearer our now extended branch promise to keep every branch open until the start of 2028.

“The investment we have made to keep branches open means we now have more than any other brand and are the last one standing in more than 90 communities.”