The first of seven spots that will roll out this week features a lesbian couple that is learning sign language to speak with a young, deaf girl they're adopting. Called "Learning Sign Language," it's meant to highlight the unique, diverse needs Wells Fargo advisors help customers deal with every day. The firm, for example, has trained employees on how to advise same-sex couples and domestic partners since 2009, as well as people managing adoption and disabilities.
"We've been serving these communities, but we hadn't really told that story," said Jamie Moldafsky, CMO of Wells Fargo. "We understand that there are needs that are really unique to them. ... We will only be successful if we mirror the community and population that we serve."
The company, which began taking an emotional approach to advertising with the 2013 "Conversations" campaign, wanted to create a more personal connection with consumers and highlight why people actually work.
"This campaign is attempting to illuminate the soul of Wells Fargo and just show the reality of the bank and bank business," said Matt Miller, executive creative director at BBDO, San Francisco. "Coming along to the brand with fresh eyes and having only seen it as a very rational thing. It didn't match up. They were very driven by emotional connections to their customers."
Mr. Miller said he worried the brand would resist the strategy because banks are known to be conservative, but was pleasantly surprised when Wells Fargo embraced inclusion in the spots. "We never set out to make a spot about a lesbian couple," he said. "We set out to reflect the modern world this campaign lives in."
Competitor JPMorgan Chase debuted an effort earlier this month, called "Masters," which also demonstrates what people work for. It stars tennis player Serena Williams, the Rockettes and fencer Tim Morehouse, among others, and pushes the bank's suite of digital products.
Unlike the Chase campaign, Wells Fargo's effort features everyday people and no products. Instead, the company is pushing products through digital and other campaigns, including "Wells Fargo Works," which breaks this week and caters to small businesses, and the millennial-focused "Done" push.
"It's about layering those messages and touching people emotionally at a personal level," said Ms. Moldafsky. "Then also being able to follow up in the right channel, at the right time with the message about what might be the solution that's right for them."
"Why I Work," strives to showcase a range of a emotions. While "Learning Sign Language" is moving, others are humorous. The ads include: "Sales Department," about a man running a small business on his own; "Gaby," depicting a Hispanic family with their own business; "Souvenir," featuring a real-life father and daughter; and "Waiting," which is aimed at seniors and highlights Wells Fargo's retirement business. Two additional spots will break in May for a total of 9 TV ads.
The spots close on the brand's iconic real-life horse-drawn stagecoach, as opposed to the illustration used in earlier ads.
"Gaby" will run on Spanish-language networks and another family-centric spot geared toward the Asian and Indian markets will air in English, Mandarin and Cantonese -- a first for the brand.
Wells Fargo will also encourage people to share their work stories with the hashtag "#WhyIWork." The company tapped social influencers to highlight workers on Instagram and other platforms, and produced a series of profiles and 30-second vignettes showcasing everyday people in their work environments, like a roller derby marketer in California.
Ms. Moldafsky declined to reveal the budget, adding that it represents a "significant investement." Wells Fargo spent $610 million on advertising in 2013, according to the Ad Age DataCenter.