Just a few weeks after E-Trade split with Grey-- its creative agency of six years that churned out countless Super Bowl spots featuring the "talking baby" -- the marketer has replaced the shop.
The move comes under new CMO Liza Landsman. Although she held meetings with about five potential agencies -- including two other WPP shops, JWT and Y&R -- she decided to halt the search and go with Ogilvy based on prior experience with the agency from her days at Blackrock. Ms. Landsman had served as global managing director of digital at Blackrock and earlier in her career spent time at Citi and IBM (another longtime Ogilvy client).
In addition to establishing a track record with Ms. Landsman, Ogilvy also has category experience having handled marketing for E-Trade rival TD Ameritrade.
The desire to cut short the review may also be a result of E-Trade being left in the lurch without a shop after Grey resigned the business rather than agreeing to defend it in a review.
"Our experience through round one got us through a clear and purposeful outcome pretty swiftly," said Ms. Landsman. Of Ogilvy, she said: "They have a tremendous heritage in building great brand platforms, whether it's for IBM or Amex. And that's very important to us." Additionally, the shop's CRM and analytics capabilities were desirable to the marketer as those are channels E-Trade wants to build out in order to reach customers.
Ms. Landsman added that she's looking at shaking up E-Trade's media mix to incorporate "areas that we haven't explored as much in the recent past, whether that's radio or out of home or sponsorships. We're looking at what are the best channels to engage with our existing customers."
Super Bowl, Baby
E-Trade has been a fixture in the past several Super Bowl broadcasts, but Ms. Landsman declined to commit to making that investment again in 2014. "We're reviewing our whole media approach for next year, so it's something that's certainly on the table. But we're looking at the wholistic picture not just that one punctuation point." Her reexamination of the company's media approach doesn't include a media agency review however; she said E-Trade plans to continue working with Publicis Groupe's Spark.
There are plenty of changes afoot in the advertising realm at E-Trade, but by the sounds of it, the famous talking baby isn't going away just yet. "We have not sat around the table yet with Ogilvy to plot our course on that," Ms. Landsman said. But, she noted, "the baby platform is iconic and hugely valuable. Certainly its continued use or use in different mediums is on the table...stay tuned."
For Ogilvy, securing the business with little in the way of investment in pitch costs is a huge benefit. It gives the WPP shop a significant boost mid-year, and 2013 hasn't been a very active one for it domestically on the new business circuit. It's sure to immediately become one of the New York office's biggest and most important accounts.
Last year, E-Trade spent $139.5 million on "advertising and market development" in 2012, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
At the same time, Ogilvy now faces a challenge: helping E-Trade turn the tides of profitability. In April, the marketer reported first-quarter profit fell 44% from the prior year. Its next earnings announcement comes in a few days.
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