I saw this article in MediaPost called Schwab Ties Positive Gains to Chuck and I thought you'd like to read a little more behind the ads. The ads in question are the cartoon like Talk to Chuck creatives, but before I go on about how much I like the ads let me give you a little background.
Back in my day as Managing Director, Channel Marketing at Harrisdirect which was the 17th largest US advertiser in 2005 right before E*trade acquired us, I pretty much ignored Schwab's online advertising. What?? How do I ignore such a large advertising spender? Simple, they had no clue as to what they were doing and were a complete mess when it came to online advertising. All my agencies would come in with their competitive scans and tell me how much they were spending and what they were doing and my reply was always the same "Oh, they'll change their creative strategy by the end of the week." And, sure enough, the Big Dawg (me) was always right. Out would come a new creative execution that was completely disconnected from their offline ads and in general was just awful.
Plus, their media buys were all over the map and inconsistent. They would often buy the same button position for Schwab Active Trader and Cybertrader, basically competiting with one another and paying double. I never knew how the economics would work out on that. Plus, their search marketing was in the dark ages. All that changed in April 2005.
Going into 2005, we were working with our traditional agency of record, EuroRSG on a new brand platform. It was a complicated process, but we were making some real headway and were putting into motion a non-traditional marketing plan when Euro won Schwab's account. Schwab's first demand was to drop Harrisdirect as a client which they did. A few months later, Euro pumps out Talk to Chuck and we recognized it as a great execution of our direct investor platform, but backed up with the humanity of asking Charles Schwab. Quite a winning combination. (side note: I am not saying that Euro used our ideas, pretty much everyone in the direct broker category had a direct investor brand play).
I'm glad that Schwab has righted their ship and are seeing success. Plus, I'm happy that the hard working folks from EuroRSG finally got to put a good plan in action in the financial services industry. It all is good because if they didn't win the business, they would have lost out on our business anyway with the acquisition.
The only knock I'll send Schwab's way is based on this statement "Already, Schwab is ahead of most advertisers, Stuart maintains--noting
that although 25% of all media consumption is online, most advertisers
allocate around 10% to online ads. Schwab already spends about 20% of
its media dollars online." That is just sad in the financial category. Sure versus ALL advertisers Schwab is spending more on average, but within the direct brokerage category, I'm sure they are WAY BEHIND. I once had a director of marketing from TD Waterhouse tell me that after they viewed competitive spend of the competition who allocated 10-20% online, they saw the Harrisdirect spend which was 75% online and he realized that was the future. That was back in 2003.
Come on Schwab you can do better than that. Just lift your head out of the sand and see how the world has changed and figure out that the audience shifted a long time ago. If you can't, I'd just talk to Chuck.