A bank is highlighting the dangers of impulse buying by posting blocked ads that steer users to a free savings app

 Headline: Cincinnati’s Fifth Third Bank came up with a novel way to encourage people to save money instead of splurging on things they don’t need. As part of a recent ad campaign, the financial institution bought up a range of ad placements that retailers typically use to entice shoppers to make impulse purchases on social media.

Social media users then found that, instead of seeing ads for products like clothing and accessories in their news feeds, they saw targeted ads from Fifth Third that read, for example, “This could have been a juice cleanse ad” or “This could have been a watch ad.” Clicking on the ads sends users to a site offering a free savings app named Dobot to help manage their spending.

Fifth Third’s “BuyNow Blocker” is not technically ad-blocking software. Rather, it’s a targeted media buy that aims to displace retailer and brand ad placements.  The ad campaign was created by San Francisco ad agency Pereira O’Dell, in order to promote Fifth Third Bank’s free automatic savings plan. By running the campaign on social media, Fifth Third also hopes to reach younger customers.

Pereira O’Dell’s website describes the thinking behind the ad campaign: “Saving money is tough. Saving money during a pandemic with nothing to do but scroll social media while tempting ads track you is even tougher. Fifth Third wanted to cut people a break, so we served them blocked ads instead of ads for typical impulse purchases. When users clicked our links, they got a free savings app.”

There are a growing number of financial products available that challenge the hold of traditional brick-and-mortar banks. Whether focusing on Black and Latinx communities or allowing card-free cash withdrawals, a host of new financial services are working to increase the number of people globally who are banked—an important step in widening financial accessibility and opportunity.

This article first appeared in

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