Last Friday, it was announced that the Grey Advertising Group and E-Trade were parting ways after working together since 2007. The Grey Advertising Group created group the popular E-Trade Baby Television and Online Campaign. The campaign was featured on six Super Bowls delivering the message that online investing is so easy a baby can do it. I am not sure that is really the case in a post 2008 world. The E-Trade campaign changed the way marketers looked at the use of babies in ads. The entertaining ads generated great talk value and a strong social media presence. E-Trade spent over $100 million in media last year supporting the campaign.
Did the campaign work? It generated a lot of talk value, but a look at E-Trade’s financials would suggest that it was no longer working. Award winning advertising doesn’t always improve business results. Revenue fell 4% in 2012 when compared to 2011. E-Trade has been plagued by leadership instability, questions on order routing, losses from its mortgage business and a lack of confidence among individual investors.
It would appear to me that the best way to reach the estimated 20 million individual online investors would not be through a national television campaign. E-Trade should consider a more targeted relationship building approach that addresses the unique needs of individual investors. A return to their core value proposition of empowering individual investors would seem to be a good approach.
Have you used E-Trade’s trading platform?