Background There is a battle raging for control of America's wealth. For all the talk of a democratized stock market, the bull market of the nineties served to only further concentrate the nationâ??s riches. By 1999, a mere 7% of US households controlled 65% of the nation's investable assets. Recognizing a huge opportunity, spending among major financial services companies exploded between 1997 and 2000, growing by 265% to nearly one billion dollars a year*. Unable to keep pace with the huge influx of marketing dollars, PaineWebber's share of spend fell to a measly 3%. With a fraction of the budget of its competitors, PaineWebber had to find a way to defend its position as a firm for the affluent investor.
The challenge Being out muscled and shouted over, we knew that if we were going to compete in this spending environment we would truly have to stand out in the category.We also knew we would have to genuinely win people over, as we could not spend them into submission. Our task was to convince the affluent target that we understood them and their issues better than anyone else in the category.
What did we do about it? We decided to focus strongly on what matters most: the relationship between the client and their financial advisor. To that end we went out in search of stories that would shed light on the relationship enjoyed by those living the PaineWebber experience. To gather great stories we recruited for loyalists- figuring that clients with long and successful relationships with PaineWebber and financial advisors from the top echelon in the company would have the richest archives from which to draw on. We chose a psychologist to help get them to open up and later help interpret what they said. We traveled to key markets across the U.S to find them.And knowing that the creative team would likely have assumptions of what millionaires are supposed to be like, and having a hunch that these affluent PaineWebber clients might not fit the mold, we packed a disposable camera as well, hoping that their images would help us convey their true selves.
The initial approach didn't work.We had expected to uncover unusual and revealing stories about the relationship, but they simply weren't forthcoming.So halfway through the project we had to start over.We decided to throw away the discussion guide and to adopt a new approach. To stop focusing so narrowly on the advisor/client relationship and to just let people talk about themselves.This revised technique was much more fruitful than forcing them to react to our incoming assumptions. In the course of telling us about themselves, both the clients and the financial advisors helped open our eyes to just how intimate this relationship could be when it was done right.
How did we convey the learning? It was vital to bring these people to life for the creatives.That these were regular people dealing with the kinds of problems and successes that everyone else deals with. We had to convince them that the idea was to move to life first, money second. To do that we covered a 60\" x 40\" foam board with blown up photos of every client we spoke to with their first name attached.We also plastered icons all around the board.Images like rolls of toilet paper, a chicken in a bathtub, an odometer showing 227,000. Each of these illustrations came out of one of the stories we had heard in the research.At the briefing we included a teaser of just some of the stories to give the creatives a feel of what was to come. By tempting the creatives to read more of the stories, we ensured that they really got to know the target and their lives. As the briefing ended, and the creative team walked out, they surprised us by taking the photoboard with them. They propped it on the couch in their office and left it there as the backdrop for their entire creative development process.
What was the result? The new campaign is unlike anything else in the category. In their quest to acquire the same affluent investors, most full-service investment firms were using a very similar formula in their advertising; Come to [Firm X] for the best advice. Each would crow about their vast global network, their hundreds of analysts, and how they all had the smartest minds on Wall Street. By contrast, our work makes no overt claims and draws no competitive comparisons. Front and center, the work is again focused on the power of the relationship. It shows PaineWebber financial advisors helping clients deal with their daily ups and downs, their challenges and dreams. The ads develop in a way that is fluid and ongoing, just like their relationship. This theme was carried out across every step of the campaign's execution. From the casting to the chosen vignettes to the media buy, everything was designed to reinforce the idea that PaineWebber financial advisors are there for their clients over the long-term.
Results Again, our goal was to really connect with our affluent target and make them feel like we were the investment firm for them. Currently, the campaign is two months old, and tracking results are expected in July. However, we already have indications from both pre and post-launch activity that we've done something right.
Pre-launch copytesting of the campaign using DRI was a great success. - Norms were exceeded, and in some cases nearly doubled, on key measures like consideration, relevance, recall, and communication. In addition to quantitative evaluation, industry reaction to the work has been overwhelming. - In May, following our April launch, we became The Source.com's most requested spot of the month.