E*Trade seeks to hold lead with network TV ad

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In a different twist on the serious world of money management, online trading company E*Trade this past weekend launched a $10 million network TV campaign urging investors to go with their stock market hunches.

In a humorous spot appearing on CBS' NCAA men's basketball tournament coverage, a street basketball player showing off his slam-dunk moves smashes into the pole holding the backboard. He blames the so-called "Excess Athletic Shoes" for his failure, throws them into a trash can, picks up his computer and gives a command to sell 500 shares of Excess stock.

"E*Trade gives you what you need to turn a hunch into an investment," the voice-over says.

J. Walter Thompson USA, San Francisco, is the agency.


The advertising is intended to bolster the company's brand in the online trading market. E*Trade was one of the first companies to offer cyber trading, starting in 1992 through CompuServe, America Online and modem connections.

Since then, Charles Schwab & Co., American Express Co., Fidelity Investments and Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette have joined the cyber trading business. Dean Witter, Discover & Co., Merrill Lynch & Co. and Smith Barney are expected to enter soon.

E*Trade claims to have about 140,000 accounts, with 75% of them accessed by the World Wide Web. Charles Schwab has more accounts but the majority are accessed by phone.

In addition, Microsoft Network has a "trading floor" Web site with links to E*Trade, Schwab, Fidelity and PC Financial Network, among other services.

Following this weekend's debut of the E*Trade spot, the campaign will roll into spot TV beginning in San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles; two new markets will be added each month. An online banner effort, which includes a banner on ESPN's Web site in its college basketball area, is planned.

Copyright March 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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