Why Scottrade's Latest Ads May Remind You More of Beer Than Brokerage

Financial-Services Firm Goes Funny With Spots From Former A-B Chief Bob Lachky

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CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- If the new campaign for Scottrade, which breaks during college football's national championship game tomorrow night, strikes you as more Bud than brokerage, there's a good reason: One of beer marketing's bold-faced names, former Anheuser-Busch creative chief Bob Lachky, was its creative director.

The Scottrade campaign is the first foray into creative consulting for Mr. Lachky, who left A-B in March after a 20-year run at the No. 1 brewer that included memorable, highly decorated campaigns such as "Whassup" and "Real Men of Genius" for Budweiser and Bud Light.

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Scottrade CMO Chris Moloney said market trends persuaded the company, traditionally a major online advertiser, to pursue a new, humorous TV-heavy campaign early last year, but the St. Louis-based company was struggling to get what it wanted out of its agencies. So it called Mr. Lachky, who managed a large stable of roster shops at A-B, "to get our agencies to deliver a more-focused level of creative."

The resulting campaign is, predictably, a departure from the marketer's previous approach, which took the traditional, Charles Schwab-ish brokerage tack of combining customer testimonials and CEO cameos (albeit with the latter coming from the cockpit of a Scottrade-branded helicopter).

The new effort, from Boston-based agency Gearon Hoffman, stars a fictitious broker named Chad who's painted as the antithesis of Scottrade's offering. He's depicted as overpaid, easily distracted and consistently losing clients to Scottrade because of its low-cost offering and 450 branch offices. The ads typically show the broker on his cellphone, reached in the back of a limo, trying somewhat ineptly to talk clients out of defecting to Scottrade.

"Historically, I think people prefer to play it safe in financial services," said Mr. Moloney. "We were ready to be a little more fun."

He added that the effort was driven by consumer research that showed the company needed to do a better job at emphasizing its value as well as its do-it-yourself appeal. At a time when brokers, like bankers, are easy to caricature as fat cats living large without adding much value to trading transactions, a recurring character such as Chad seemed like the best way to make that point.

"It was one of those times when the light bulb just goes on across the room," said Mr. Lachky, who had a number of successes at A-B with recurring characters in spots such as "Leon," "Dude" and the Budweiser Frogs. And he acknowledged some similarities between some of those efforts and Scottrade's latest.

But, he noted, there are obvious differences between the categories.

"A few months ago I really didn't know that much about the space," he said. "These guys are always teasing me that [beer drinkers] are easier to talk to than [investors]."

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