In the early 1980’s High Street Banks suddenly began to realise there was an entire untapped market out there ready and waiting for them to
exploit serve. Prior to this most kids may have had a Building Society account that was set up for them by their parents when they were born, if they had any kind of account at all, and withdrawing money from such an account normally needed a parents signature too, assuming of course the account had any money in it in the first place of course.
The Banks decided it was a good idea to encourage kids to be careful with their money, which is an admirable aim it has to be said. They did this by giving the younger saver incentives to keep adding to their account rather than blowing all their pocket money on Polystyrene Gliders and Penny Sweets.
There were two such schemes that managed to steal the majority of these emerging customers. The first was the NatWest Piggy Bank scheme, which was best aimed at the younger, primary school age end of the market. Upon opening an account you were presented with the first in a series of Piggy Banks, which was a piglet named Woody, who was dressed in nothing but a nappy. As the budding millionaires account balance grew they would be awarded further Piggy Banks in the series, until a full family of five had been collected. There were two more child pigs, named Maxwell and Annabel. The mother pig was called Lady Hillary and the set was rounded off at the end with head of the family Sir Nathaniel Westminster.
You may be wondering why there are six pigs in the picture accompanying this post. Well, there was also a Cousin Wesley, who was only available in 1998 when you opened a Child Bond account. Some were also given away in competitions. Given that the original NatWest piggy bank scheme operated between 1982 and 1988 you’d be forgiven for not recognising this extra extended member of the piggy family.
I think part of what made this scheme so popular was the TV advert for it, which was set to the music of “Figaro”, with the name changed to “Pigaro” of course. You also got a few other things for your trouble, such as a wall chart (which I think was for measuring the childs height) and I think you got a magazine or something like that too. These days a complete set of the Piggy Banks can fetch around Â£200, so I hope you kept yours safe! For more information on the history of the Piggy Banks and the various fakes available, check out the fascinating Piggy Bank Page website.
For the older kids Piggy Banks held little appeal of course, so Midland Bank stepped in to claim their custom with their Griffin Savers account. On opening your account, and agreeing to keep at least Â£10 in it for the first six months, you were awarded with a selection of goodies including a gym bag, dictionary, pencil case, geometry set, ring binder and a folder to keep all your account information in. Not a bad little haul really, and certainly enough to equip most kids with a lot of what they needed for their school work.
The scheme was called Griffin Savers on account of the Banks logo being a Griffin, a mythical creature with the body of a lion and the head and wings of an Eagle. He was personified as a cartoon character for the Griffin Savers account, voice by Richard Briers if I remember correctly. The character was so popular he was also used to advertise the rest of the Midland’s services. I recall one advert introducing ATM machines, with the Griffin remarking in song how “when you pressed his little buttons, the little chap had ears”, which also tied in to their slogan as being “The Listening Bank”.