Home Savings in New York – the TV Commercial

Home Savings of America TV commercial, 1992, accessed on YouTube

Home Savings of America TV commercial, 1992, accessed on YouTube

How did Home Savings/Savings of America express its affection for communities after they stopped paying for expensive artwork? Teresa Fernandez helped me again with a tip that some of the old Home Savings commercials can be viewed on YouTube.

Here, over a saxophone’s slow wail, images of multicultural New York flash by: the Brooklyn Bridge; a checker cab; Vesuvio Bakery; older (Italian?) men playing bocce ball;  a baptism in a Catholic cathedral; a (Chinese?) girl whirling fans; a mother and son lighting Chanukah candles in the window; an African American band; an (Irish?) family dressed to parade with bagpipes; and then a return to those old men.

The commercial’s text, with pauses that make it feel like a poem, reads:

New York.
It’s a city
not just of people,
but of traditions,
that preserve the past
and enrich the present.
At Home Savings of America,
the nation’s largest savings bank,
we have a tradition
of conservative investing
that has made people like you feel secure.
for more than a hundred years.

In my mind, this is an exact continuation of the themes in Richard Haas’s Forest Hills mosaic and the general use of art and architecture to ground Home Savings, using quintessential (almost bordering on stereotypical) images of New York City and its traditional ethnic residents to express a sense of home, evoking personal routes and stories of migration through the city for those customers elsewhere, and a sense of pride for New Yorkers.

Home Savings put the tagline “Peace of mind since 1889” on its shield for many years — despite the fact that Howard Ahmanson only became the majority shareholder in the savings and loan in 1947.   I see the same here, with a new bank determined to prove itself as an old, reliable friend. I find it very well done, the sentimentality full but not overdoing it, the “conservative investment” reassuring. And now, just like the mosaics, this 30-second commercial is now its own fascinating window on the past.

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