An advert for Nationwide featuring the actor Dominic West has been reported to the advertising watchdog by rival bank Santander, the BBC understands.
In the advert, West plays the boss of a fictional big bank who mocks customers while planning branch closures.
The Advertising Standards Authority said it was investigating a complaint, which argued that the ad was misleading and discredited Nationwide’s rivals.
Nationwide said it was aware of the complaint.
Santander declined to comment.
The advert in question was released by the building society in October last year. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received a complaint about it shortly after, as first reported by Sky News.
West, known for his roles playing Jimmy McNulty in The Wire and Prince Charles in The Crown, is shown presenting a large expenses bill for a company lunch before going on to talk about cutbacks and closing the branch.
When a colleague points out that Nationwide (seen across the road, in the advert) aren’t 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.”
Several High Street banks, including Lloyds, Barclays, NatWest and Santander, announced closures in 2023, citing customers increasingly moving online.
At the same time, building society Nationwide has been making much of its “branch promise” to keep all of its existing branches open until at least 2026, unless there are “circumstances outside of our control”.
A spokesperson for the ASA said: “We’ve received a complaint about a Nationwide ad. The complainant argues that the ad is misleading around other banks closing branches, and discredits and denigrates its competitors.”
The spokesperson added that the complaint was being investigated but said it had not made a decision either way.
Nationwide told the BBC: “We are aware of the complaint made to the ASA and await the outcome.”
A spokesperson added that, while big banks had closed branches, “by contrast, we continue to believe face-to-face banking matters”.