Ads position Goldman Sachs as good friend to the ordinary man

By David Kiefaber on Thu Sep 30 2010


What Wall Street has done to this country in the name of profit is evil enough without Goldman Sachs trying to ease public acrimony by launching a feel-good ad campaign about themselves. Their theory is that no one likes them anymore because no one really understands what they do, so they want to fix that. The first print ad (full image after the jump) is an exhibition of shamelessness that Kroger Babb would cluck his tongue at. Set against a backdrop of politically expedient wind turbines, the ad suggests Goldman Sachs provides startup capital for honest, hard-working people who want to make the world a better place. Other ads will focus on what the company does for a variety of clients, including corporations, institutions and smiling rubes like us. It's quite a different show than they put on 10 years ago, when they were a plucky investment bank, and it doesn't shed any light on their trading and principal investment strategies, either. So, this whole thing amounts to the company giving itself the Momcorp treatment. Whatever keeps them ahead of the law, I guess, but it's going to take a long, long time for this to gain any traction. To quote one of the many critical commenters, "[Goldman Sachs] advises its clients to buy financial instruments while betting against them with its own money. I don't really need to know more than that."

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Getting kids hooked no longer as easy for credit-card marketers

By T.L. Stanley on Mon Aug 30 2010


The college experience is hardly complete without the Freshman 15 (pounds, that is) and the beginnings of staggering credit-card debt. (Hey, I got a free T-shirt just for signing up for this plastic!) For decades, financial-services companies have been marketing heavily on college campuses, realizing that students who need textbooks and clothes (OK, and beer—lots of beer) can become lifelong customers, if not necessarily brand-loyal ones. It has mostly meant a mountain of debt for young adults who mistook the cards for free money and overused them accordingly. But new legislation aimed at halting the practice has taken effect this year. Among the restrictions: no more freebies for applying for credit cards, and no one under 21 gets one without an adult co-signer or a proven income. There's reason to put the kibosh on this kind of marketing, with the Washington Post citing figures that say the average student graduates with more than $4,100 in credit-card debt (up from $2,900 a few years ago) and just 15 percent of freshmen had a zero balance on their cards, down dramatically from 69 percent in 2004. Bank of America, Chase and others say they're paws off these days, but the Post story details ways that marketers are still showing some school spirit. Careful, kids, unless of course you have an open account with the Bank of Mom and Dad. In which case, go crazy!

Detroit's Victorious Secrets named FreeCreditScore's new band

By David Kiefaber on Thu Aug 12 2010

As Experian's becomes, the company decided to pick a new band for its ads, too. But don't worry, the new guys are just as annoying as the old guys were. Detroit pop-rock outfit the Victorious Secrets, who attended the Be Sharps school of band naming, were voted the new FreeCreditScore house band after an online contest. Company spokesman Chris Moloney thinks the new group will catch on, boldly asserting that "America will embrace them just as the voters have." If they don't, it won't be for lack of effort. The Secrets will star in a $10-15 million ad campaign, with a series of TV spots from The Martin Agency (like this one posted here) set to debut during the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards. I can see the wisdom in strapping a new band to a new marketing effort for a new site, and as much as I may pick on the Victorious Secrets, their music is harmless and tuneful enough to appeal to a broad spectrum of viewers. Plus, musicians have to eat and pay rent, too. So as far as literal rebrandings go, no one can accuse Experian of doing things by halves.

Semifinalists crank it up in search for next FreeCreditScore band

Posted on Tue Jun 8 2010


It's no secret that Experian is saying goodbye to its band. The credit bureau is searching for a replacement band as it reinvents itself as The band search was announced last month, and this week 12 semifinalists have been chosen from live performances held in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. Visitors to are asked to vote for four finalists. The company is accepting online video submissions through June 16—it has collected 31 so far—and bands from that pool can be voted into the final round, too. Then things will really get competitive, as Experian dangles a $10,000 prize and the opportunity to become the next face of, among other rewards. Based on the feedback we received to a story I wrote on, consumers aren't exactly thrilled about the departure of the old band. Those guys have apparently made a long-lasting impression, and Experian must now face a bunch of unhappy groupies.

—Posted by Elena Malykhina

FreeCreditScore getting all Frisky with its financial advice online

Posted on Wed Jun 2 2010

You can ogle the couture outfits that Carrie Bradshaw wears on her Abu Dhabi vacation, but that doesn't mean you can afford them yourself. In fact, you might need to put the kibosh on your retail therapy before you approach a Tom Sizemore level of addiction. So says the affluent young-women-targeted Web site The Frisky, run by media conglomerate Turner, which has partnered for a year-long cross-promotion with (Experian's FreeCreditScore is in the midst of a major ad and social-media campaign, ditching its old FreeCreditReport band and looking for a new one, and branding itself as a broader service.) The alliance with The Frisky, a site dedicated to celebrity news, pop culture, relationships, fashion and beauty, helped launch a new money-centric section that's tagged liberally with FreeCreditScore features, webisodes and advice. (The site's been ad-supported since late last year and now counts 3.5 million unique visitors per month, according to Omniture.) The branded content is syndicated, so it'll pop up in plenty of places where the demo hangs out online. It's another example of "contextually relevant advertising" that's all the rage with marketers and media sellers. The stories and tips gave me some financial rules I should ignore, armed me with five money questions to ask my "honey" and set me on the path to rehabbing my credit rating. Too bad it didn't justify my most recent shopping spree. Lighten up, it was a sale!

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Accenture ads with Tiger Woods sure look a bit funny these days

Posted on Wed Dec 2 2009


It's funny how an unexpected turn of events in real life can make you reassess a superstar's body of work. It's hard to look at O.J. Simpson the same way in those Naked Gun movies, and I'm sure a lot of people are giving Michael Jackson's lyrics a closer read to find signs of drug-induced agony. In the case of Tiger Woods, we can't really make much of his golf games, but what about those Accenture ads from Young & Rubicam? They turn out to be full of karmic goodies. The one below, for instance, shows Tiger looking across a stream and contemplating his options. "It's what you do next that counts," reads the headline. Another is even more prophetic: "The road to high performance isn't always paved." Still another shows Tiger next to a crude line graph that reads "interpretation 60% information 40%." The only difference now is that the second entry should read "0%." UPDATE: OK, 10%.

—Posted by Todd Wasserman


CIT Group's TV commercials as bankrupt as the company itself

Posted on Tue Nov 3 2009

Global financial lender CIT Group is going to need some financial help itself, after filing for bankruptcy this week. The company, now seeking to cut its $10 billion debt, is also going to need some help with its ads, like this one, which don't really leave an impression. The ad promises that CIT is able to provide financing to keep healthcare "strong and healthy," as a new mother is shown holding her child at the hospital. Other scenarios fill the screen, including: a turbine producing wind energy (new resources); a man on a mobile device and a woman using streaming video on her laptop (better communications); college students graduating (financial aid); researchers in a lab and a girl looking at the sky (financing the future). Sound familiar? That's because we've seen these images in hundreds of other ads dealing with important life matters. CIT's spot is so generic that it's interchangeable with any other type of corporate advertising. And in the oversaturated world of financial services, being able to stand out from the pack is key.

—Posted by Elena Malykhina

New Yorkers more subdued than usual in HSBC's soapbox clips

Posted on Tue Aug 18 2009

We mentioned HSBC's soapbox outdoor/experiential event when it was held in New York last month. Now, footage from the event has been cut into videos. The idea of the event was to literally give New Yorkers a platform for their views—on work, family, technology and, in the video shown here, immigration. The "Different values" campaign, by JWT in New York and London, acknowledges that "we all look at things from different angles," and by hearing each other out, "we can all make the world a better place." The consumers' views on immigration, an often ugly topic, aren't exactly controversial—but this is an ad, so what do you expect? In the jobs video, one woman says, "There are only two kinds of jobs worth having: a job that you love, or a job that lets you do the things you love." In this economy? Any job might be worth cherishing, no?

—Posted by Elaine Wong

A few laughs in between all the screaming and crying over AIG

Posted on Thu Mar 19 2009

AIG has fast become one of the biggest financial villains of our time. Its $170 billion-plus bailout and million-dollar executive bonuses have sparked angry headlines all over the media. (My personal favorite is the "A.I.G. is a P.I.G." in the New York Daily News.) Meanwhile, humorous parodies like this one have been flooding YouTube. It's a real AIG commercial showing a concerned child discussing his parents' financial future, but in a dubbed voiceover, the father now says to the child: "Buddy, we got a federal government bailout." Another parody, the one posted here, surfaced on YouTube this week, alluding to AIG's "We know money" ads. It says: "Great performance takes great strength, like the financial strength of over $85 billion in your tax money. For over 85 years, suckers of the AIG companies have had more secure financial futures because … we know your bailout money." Need I say more?

—Posted by Elena Malykhina

As the rest of us get poorer, Suze Orman gets a whole lot richer

Posted on Wed Feb 25 2009


Suze Orman, who's in white-hot demand these days, walks a fine line when it comes to paid commercial endorsements. On the one hand, doing ads can create a perceived conflict of interest for someone who claims to offer independent financial advice. On the other hand, turning down ad opportunities is clearly a dumb financial move (at least in the short term), and she's supposed to be smarter than that.
  Her solution: She does what she thinks she can away with. That means no bank ads, but stuff like "Got milk?" is fine. Here's her page on the Web site. In the video, she says this about her sellout-ishness: "Here's what everybody needs to understand about me. I've been asked to do many ads. I've been asked to do many endorsements. And I very, very seldom say yes, because I would never lend my face and my beliefs to just anything. I would do it because I believed in it and I thought it was a great value. So today, as I sit here, I don't actually think about all the other celebrities that have done ['Got milk?'], and what it feels like to be one of them. I think about how important what I'm doing really is."

—Posted by Tim Nudd



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