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Bye, Bye Baby

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Farewell to the E*TRADE talking baby? This month the discount brokerage firm E*TRADE abandoned its popular baby spokesperson, a fixture in the company’s ads since 2008, in favor of a new more mature direction with ads featuring “House of Cards” star, Kevin Spacey. It’s often surprising when brands with iconic advertising walk away from award-winning campaigns, particularly when the campaigns still seem to “have legs” in popular culture.

But for E*TRADE the timing seems right. The firm itself is “growing up.” Initially appealing to the brash and irreverent self-directed trader market, E*TRADE is now building out retirement, banking, and investment products. It’s also adding advisory staff and managed accounts targeting do-it-yourselfers that have the knowledge and self-confidence to ask for help when they need it. E*TRADE is, in effect, becoming more savvy and aggressive. Who better than the sophisticated and sardonic Kevin Spacey to carry that message going forward?

The selection of Kevin Spacey, the current poster child for alternative media distribution of mass market entertainment, also aligns perfectly with E*TRADE’s core brand as a technology leader and the firm’s apparent plan to increase ad share through new media outlets beyond TV.

Whether E*TRADE will be successful in its evolution remains to be seen. But, for us, E*TRADE’s bold approach is consistent with our strongly held view that effective creative needs to reflect the sponsor’s strategic direction and should resonate with the sponsor’s core and aspirational target markets. Even the most appealing ads can be counterproductive if not aligned with an organization’s future goals. As for the E*TRADE baby, well, we all have to grow up sometime.

The nexus between business strategy, target markets and creative representation is at the core of our practice at Optima Group.