Michael Bolton croons a breakup song for investing app Public.com, following Robinhood and Reddit fiasco
A week after Congress grilled Robinhood executives in a five-hour hearing about the stock-trading app’s part in the “meme stock” Reddit debacle, Robinhood competitor Public.com is out with a new social campaign to capitalize on consumer distrust with stockbrokers.
In a new spot on Twitter, we see Michael Bolton, known for his epic love songs, updating his 1989 hit “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You” to “How Am I Supposed to Trade Without You.” The idea is that, with some help from Bolton, breaking up with your current stockbroker—which can feel like ending a relationship—won’t feel so difficult.
“I know you’ve been disappointed by your stockbroker,” Bolton says as he eyes the camera. “You might be thinking, how can I ever trust again? Well, I know a thing or two about breakups. And I’m here to help and so is Public.com.” Then, he bursts into song with all the familiar camera angles and the earnest, far-off stares of his music video hits of the ’80s, minus the mullet.
The updated lyrics reflect the frenzy of recent events of the online stock market world, and specifically reference “Reddit.”
How Am I Supposed To Trade Without You?
I could hardly believe it
What I saw on Reddit today
Was hoping that I’d get it straight from you
They told me ‘bout order flow
So I Googled, now I know
I think I gotta find somebody new
So tell me all about it
Tell me who you sell my trades to
Then tell me one thing more before I go
Tell me how am I supposed to trade without you?
My stocks been in your app for oh so long
How am I supposed to trade without you?
I think it’s time I must be moving on
Gonna transfer all my stuff and I’ll be gone...
“We leaned into the themes of love, heartbreak and, of course, the ’80s, all working together to highlight the idea that you can ‘Break up with your brokerage in the time it takes Michael Bolton to break a heart,’” says Zach Dioneda, Public.com’s VP of brand.
The video accompanies ads on Twitter and TikTok, and a redesigned “Transfer Your Portfolio” page on Public’s app. Public worked directly with production company Shoot to Kill NYC and design studio Gaspard+Bruno for the campaign.
Dioneda says the whole spot was pieced together in a little over a week, following increased conversations around the stock market—and as the app saw an uptick in new members looking to transfer their investment portfolios to Public.com, which recently surpassed 1 million members. The spot, initially timed to Valentine’s Day, promotes Public’s decision to stop “order flow” payments, or Payment for Order Flow (PFOF), and replace it with tipping, so it no longer relies on compensation from brokerage houses, a major spark of debate surrounding the Robinhood commotion.
"The campaign and lyrics touch on the increased interest in the stock market over the last few weeks, and the news cycle—including our own decision to end PFOF,” Dioneda says. “So we felt like incorporating Reddit, where much of the GameStop movement (and larger conversation in general) took off, was one way to lean into that."
The effort is also part of the investing app’s strategy to use celebrities and prominent individuals to showcase their investing portfolios directly on the app. Michael Bolton now joins a list of stars including actor Adrian Grenier, Aerie model and activist Iskra Lawrence, and New York University business professor Scott Galloway.
It’s the second time in the past year that Bolton has parodied one of his songs for a brand campaign. In September 2020, he appeared in a spot for Panera, reworking his 1991 hit “When a Man Loves a Woman” into “When Some Mac Loves Broccoli Cheddar.”