E*Trade Effort Spurns the Ordinary

E*Trade Financial Corp. has entered a more response-oriented phase of a $126 million marketing campaign to position itself as an institution with superior integrated financial solutions.

The New York company will use television, newspapers, magazines and the Internet to reiterate the new theme and tagline, “Challenge the Ordinary … Be E*traordinary.” BBDO New York and the Atmosphere BBDO online agency handle the account.

“We're going after the customers with $50,000 to $1 million in assets who are basically not being served to optimal satisfaction by many of our competitors,” said Nick Utton, chief marketing officer of E*Trade.

TV ads use living and deceased achievers like Stephen Hawking, Bob Dylan, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Arthur Ashe, Vince Lombardi and Ernest Hemingway. These individuals emphasize the potential of people to challenge the ordinary. A line in the spot says, “At E*Trade, we keep challenging the ordinary to help investors 'Be E*traordinary.'”

Print ads and online banners bear the same strain of thought. One banner is headlined, “Be smarter than the average bear. Or bull.” Another says, “If you want ordinary, go to Wall Street.” The E*Trade asterisk, a well-recognized trademark, will be prominent in the campaign.

E*Trade's ads direct consumers to the site at www.etrade.com or a designated toll-free number to gather more information or sign up as a customer. Online ads will tout different offers like 100 free trades for opening an account.

The branding part of the campaign began March 27 with teaser ads during the NCAA men's basketball tournament on CBS. Product-specific ads start this month.

Media buys include TV channels like CBS, Fox, MSN and CNBC. Print ads run in Forbes, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Money, The New York Times, Investor's Business Daily, USA Today and The Wall Street Journal. Online banners are on AOL, MSN, MarketWatch, Yahoo and CNN Money.

“This is hopefully going to be a campaign that will grow and evolve over a few years,” Utton said. “The consumers will decide how long it will last.”

The stakes are high for E*Trade, which doubled its marketing spend this year from $60 million in 2004. The company, once a poster child for high-flying online brokerages and a pioneer of portable mortgages, generated considerable brand awareness in the 1990s.

But E*Trade's offerings — mortgages, investment options, banking and trading — invite head-on competition from firms like Smith Barney, Morgan Stanley, Fidelity, JP Morgan Chase & Co., Countrywide, Charles Schwab, Ameritrade, Scottrade and TD Waterhouse.

“We want to become more than just a place where you do an online trade,” Utton said. “We want to provide superior financial solutions, but linked to these are trading solutions, investment solutions, banking solutions, lending solutions.”

The campaign specifically talks to self-directed investors, he said. This group accounts for an estimated 20 percent of the investing public.

“We see an opportunity for millions of consumers who have a need for high-value, low-cost solutions to make better investing financial decisions,” Utton said.

Mickey Alam Khan covers Internet marketing campaigns and e-commerce, agency news as well as circulation for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters

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