Changing of the Guard for British Banks Nationwide and Barclays as Top Marketers Exit

Marketing bosses at Barclays and Nationwide have departed, ushering in a new era for the UK financial brands

It’s all change at the top for two of the U.K’s biggest financial brands, with chief marketing officer departures at Nationwide building society and Barclays bank.

Sara Bennison, chief product and marketing officer at Nationwide, has exited following a six-year tenure, while Alex Naylor, CMO at Barclays UK, has left the business after eight months in the role.

Bennison’s Nationwide legacy

At Nationwide, Bennison—the first person to take on the top marketing job at the financial brand in 2016—has announced that she has stepped down.

Prior to her most recent role, she was chief marketing officer at Barclays bank and head of marketing at telecom BT. Before moving brand-side, Bennison led Grey London as managing partner.

Nationwide confirmed to Adweek that it had initiated a search to fill the CMO vacancy.

Under Bennison’s watch, Nationwide worked with WPP ad agencies VCCP and Wavemaker to breathe fresh life into the brand and help it carve out a more meaningful role in people lives.

She was the brains behind Nationwide’s long-standing “Voices” campaign, which has been celebrating the experiences of ordinary people through spoken-word poetry and candid films since 2017. Bennison also oversaw the “PayDay to SaveDay” initiative, which encouraged young people to make smart decisions for their future selves. More recently, the brand invested in a push to educate on bullying in schools, based on its core value of mutual respect.

On the back of Bennison’s vision, Nationwide’s membership has risen by 1.5 million over the past five years to reach 16.3 million people in the U.K, the financial institution has said.

In a LinkedIn post, the marketer said this result was “proof positive” that achieving success in the short term was best served by “doing the right thing in the right way for your customers and for society in the long-term”

Nationwide seeks new marketing boss

Her departure comes six months after Nationwide appointed ex-TSB bank chief executive Debbie Crosbie as CEO.

“As Nationwide turns a page in [Crosbie’s] very capable hands, the time has come for me to do the same,” Bennison said. She said she’d now be turning to “think about what that next chapter should be for me with a heart full of thanks to everyone who has made the last six years such a joy.”

In a statement, a Nationwide spokesperson said: “After six years of transforming Nationwide’s communications, propositions and service, and recently helping to deliver a great set of financial results for members, Sara Bennison has decided to leave the Society.

“In that time, she has helped strengthen Nationwide’s brand, secured its leading position for service, and built a highly effective team around her. Sara leaves the Society in great shape and we wish her every success for the future.”

CMO shift for Barclays

High-street bank Barclays has also been undergoing its own marketing changes too, with the departure of Naylor. Having been CMO since December 2021, he was previously managing director of marketing and communications for Barclays. Before that, he was CMO at sister credit card brand Barclaycard.

During his time at Barclays, Naylor has focused on steering the brand during the pandemic, building on its “Make Money Work for You” campaign. Another proposition, “Barclays Sidekicks”, all about making credit simple, drove “record levels of brand consideration” for the company.

Since leaving the brand around one month ago, he has has been replaced by Alisa Copeman, former managing director for Barclays’ payment division. Copeman also has Barclaycard on her CV, as well as American Express where she spent 17 years, most recently as vice president of marketing, global commercial payments.

Adweek has reached out to Barclays for a statement on its CMO switch.