E*Trade tells baby: “Just shut-up !”

TakeAway:  E*Trade has generated a lot of awareness with its talking baby ads, but is losing ground to its competitors.

Byt, awareness doesn’t lead to customers if the message is wrong.  And, for most people money is not a joking matter..

E*Trade has caught onto this and is reworking its campaigns going forward.

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Excerpted from Bloomberg Businessweek, “E*Trade Looks to Outgrow That Talking Baby,” by Ben Steverman, February 16, 2011

E*Trade may boast some of the most popular advertisements on TV, but the company still can’t make a profit. Hobbled by bad loans that blew up in the financial crisis, it’s stuck at fourth place in the highly competitive online brokerage industry.

E*Trade executives are thus trying a new strategy: While not entirely abandoning their talking baby campaign, they’re spending more than half of an increased ad budget on messages without the stock-trading infant. The talking baby ads, which began airing during the 2008 Super Bowl, have been a hit with TV viewers. Nielsen says that an ad featuring the E*Trade baby with a sneezing cat was the third most-liked commercial during the 2011 Super Bowl, watched by a record 111 million people. Because of the baby, “we have much higher brand recognition vs. the competition,” says E*Trade’s chief marketing officer.

Despite the attention, the New York-based company has fallen behind rivals in assets and new customer signups. Since the end of 2007, E*Trade has boosted its number of brokerage accounts by 9.4 percent, to 2.7 million. That’s solid growth, but much of the online brokerage industry has seen a heavier influx of assets. Charles Schwab has increased its active brokerage accounts by 13.5 percent since 2007 and TD Ameritrade has boosted total accounts by 24 percent in that period. …

… What’s holding back E*Trade may not be its offerings but its customer image, something the talking baby ad campaign isn’t improving… It’s an unusual strategy for a financial company. “How many people want to take advice from a baby?” …

Edit by DMG


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