E-Trade came back to the Super Bowl in 2018, minus the baby. The financial firm once known for its wisecracking infant ended a five-year break with this 30-second spot continuing the new marketing theme rolled out in 2017 with new agency MullenLowe: "Don't Get Mad, Get E-Trade." It highlighted the coming perils for consumers who haven't planned financially for retirement.
"Right now, it's the right message at the right time," Lea Stendahl, chief marketing officer at 36-year-old E-Trade told Ad Age. "The retirement message, and shining the light on the importance of savings and retirement planning, has become increasingly important." Recent research suggested Americans were not saving enough for their golden years, she noted.
E-Trade had previously been one of the Super Bowl's most consistent advertisers, with spots in the game from 2008 ("Talking Baby Part 1") through 2013 ("Save It"). The streak ended following sales declines and turnover in leadership and creative agencies. Stendahl, who was with E-Trade from 2004 through 2013 and rejoined in 2016, said the brand spent the months leading up to the 2018 Super Bowl returning to its "challenger brand routes."
One strategy was targeting younger consumers just beginning to contemplate their financial futures, in addition to its existing flock of trading loyalists. "'Don't Get Mad, Get E-Trade' was something we pitched from the jump--we saw the power in that insight of innate frustration around people with money," said Tim Vaccarino, executive creative director at Mullen. "You can harness that frustration and do something with that. It's getting people to act." (See Stendahl and Vaccarino explore the ad more in this "Anatomy of a Super Bowl Ad" video.)
The empowerment strategy seemed to be paying off. E-Trade reported fourth-quarter 2017 net revenue of $637 million, a 25 percent increase, though net income of $129 million was down from $147 million.
The company did not release the ad before the game. Its Super Bowl push included a series of short social media videos showcasing a group of octogenarian cheerleaders -- again, the dangers of not saving for retirement. "Given that this is a significant investment, there's an expectation that the investment has to work hard both before, during and after the game," said Stendahl. "The logical place for that is to live in the social and digital world."
The effort followed an earlier campaign from R/GA that featured Kevin Spacey as a spokesman. Spacey, whose E-Trade branding last ran in 2016, was later accused of sexual assault and misconduct.
Directors: Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris of "Little Miss Sunshine" fame.
QUARTER AIRED: Q2