HBOS is one of the most recognisable names in banking. The Halifax International offshore banking service was launched in 2008 with a proposition as the bank that is with their consumers "every step of the way". Halifax wanted to create a service that would allow Halifax International to make a real connection with its audience. A sponsorship that would provide an online home for the Expat community, and take branded content to a new level.
Realising that expats turn to digital channels as a source of information about the life they left behind, Halifax teamed up with UK newspaper The Sun. They worked together to create The Sun Expat channel. Set within The Sun online, the newspaper featured the four key sections, with a dedicated journalist employed to regularly add stories and features of interest, gradually building a vibrant world map for the expat community. The site encouraged expats to upload their tales via Expat TV, comment on features and share their lives with other expats through photo competitions. Halifax International's presence was assured through 100% of ad formats acquired by their offshore services, functioning as a constant branding platform. Click through ads displayed the latest rates, driving traffic to their site. The finance section served as a key content feed for all Halifax press releases and dedicated financial editorial, reflecting the key concerns that Expats have about life abroad and functioning as a further revenue source for Halifax International with its brand platform.
Two weeks following launch, the paper reached its first year target of impressions of 300,000. Within a month it had been exceeded twenty times over. In some months the targets were exceeded by 1500% at 1,556,140. After 6 months a total of 1,528,539 unique users spent an average dwell time of 3.2 minutes on the site. With ad rates converting at four times the expected click-through rate, The Sun Expat created nearly 200 applications, with half of those converted to sales.