How to find a rainbow at the end of a troll storm.

"That's 2017."

This from my 14-year-old daughter, Sofia, in response to my confusion over trolls who litter the Money Diaries website.

Launched in 2016, Money Diaries is a website featuring more than 100 diaries from women who chronicle their spending over a week's time. The writers give an intimate look inside their lives as they share daily choices to work their budgets. Women, mostly Millennial women, are addicted to the site for its authenticity and transparency.

Others love it just to hate it.

Like "Heroic Eye," who wrote this in response to "A Week in New York on a $53,000 Salary:"

"These are not meals. Also, she literally drinks alcohol 6 out of the 7 days she recorded info for this series. There's a hella lot of coffee with not a lot on her stomach (so she can feel awake). And most of the nights she listed, she doesn't get home until 12:30-2:30am (even though the majority of her mornings begin between 7-8am)."

"Fresh Heart" had this to say about the same diary after another reader defended the author.

"Hey — you put it out there in a PUBLIC article, you will get judged. It's not like we're breaking into her apartment and judging her. She wrote it up and published it online for all to read, so shut up. That's asking for judgment."

Blame it on the anonymity of the internet or the juiced up political environment. Whatever the prompt, trolls are inescapable. Even puppies aren't immune. Sofia showed me a YouTube post where a girl proudly introduced her new ball of canine cuddliness. Someone actually accused her of being a cat-hater.

Even puppies aren't safe from trolls.

If puppy posts aren't safe from scrutiny, neither is your brand. If you're on social media or you host a blog, chances are, you've already met a few trolls.

Campbell's sparked a troll frenzy after featuring a real-life gay couple and their toddler son in an ad. A woman named Jessica from the ultra-conservative group "One Million Moms" sparked the feud, posting on Campbell's Facebook page: "I'm so sick of this homosexual agenda, you sell soup… Please take your ad down or you will not have a company anymore!"

Campbell's responded with a statement supporting families of "different configurations, cultures, races and life choices."

Things got really interesting when someone set up a fake Facebook Page "Campbell For Help" to troll the troller. "My word, Jessica. That's quite a leap. While we at Campbell's Kitchen take pride in being empathetic, we are finding it hard to empathize with your vantage point. Would you just prefer we send you some of our classic tomato soup? It's real soup-er?"

Four tactics to tackle trolls.

You can't count on a white knight troll to save your brand from such attacks. So, if you've not already established a plan to manage negative posts, get to it. Your plan should include at least four basic tactics—watch, ignore, engage and employ.

  1. Watch. Take a deep breath and see if any fans come to your defense. There's nothing better than a loyal fan fighting for your honor.

  2. Ignore it. Sometimes the best course of action is to do nothing at all. This is especially true when the troll's comments are especially outlandish. Your followers know the difference between a rant and a true injustice. You're a big brand. You can take a few hits without damaging your reputation. For courage, visit the social media channels of airlines, hospital systems and utility companies. Pacific Gas & Electric didn't engage with the conversation below, however tempting.

  3. Engage with it. When people feel wronged today, they're more likely to post on social media than pick up the phone. If you're in the business of serving customers, your Facebook page is most importantly an extension of your customer service team. Customers expect swift and thoughtful action.

    When your brand is in the wrong, own up to it and use the opportunity to deepen your customer relationships. Kroger gets it. The community managers there are prompt and courteous. The proof is in the posts. Once the team responds, most conversations are wrapped up in a tidy bow. Here's just one of hundreds of recent exchanges:

  4. Learn from it. In addition to vanity metrics—likes, shares, follows—brands should be using social media to manage customer satisfaction and referrals. Your social following is a living, consuming focus group. Use their input to discover flaws and realize opportunities. Find the rainbow at the end of a troll storm. Cue Target.

    When the superstore announced plans to scrub stores of extraneous gender-based signage—boys' toys, girls' bedding, etc.—the trolls marched all over Target's Facebook Page, fuming about political correctness and threatening boycott.

    Target followed up months later with another controversial move, welcoming customers to use the bathroom and fitting room in accordance with their gender identities.The bold move was likely advanced, in part, by the enormous support the retailer received on social after the earlier gender-neutral signage brouhaha. The waters had been tested. They were ready to go full inclusion, knowing full well that it would ignite a vigorous social media debate.

Got a troll nipping at your brand? Use it to the best of your brand's ability. Need help managing your social media channels? These apps are a good start.

Money Diaries is the Millennial woman's Bridget Jones.

Money Diaries is the Millennial woman's Bridget Jones.

I wonder what’s in her wallet?

That’s the gist “Money Diaries” at Refinery29, a New York-based website that publishes the daily personal financial decisions of Millennial women. Think Bridget Jones Diaries for the gal who cares more about stretching a dollar than a donut.

For those unfamiliar with the fictional Bridget Jones, she measured a day’s success based on the amount of calories, alcohol and cigarettes she consumed. She’d chronicle her intake painstakingly—and defensively—like this account marked January 1:

“129 lbs. (but post-Christmas), alcohol units 14 (but effectively covers 2 days as 4 hours of party was on New Year's Day), cigarettes 22, calories 5424.”

Money Diaries features a seven-day snapshot of mostly Millennial women as they work assorted budgets in mostly high-end cities. The site presently features a recent grad who struggles to live on a $50,000 ($2,430/month) in New York City. A sample entry:

“I stop in CVS to pick up toothbrushes, toothpaste, and my birth control. Unfortunately, my health insurance doesn't cover my particular birth control, so I have to pay out-of-pocket every month. It's getting expensive, so I make a mental note to call my gynecologist this week to talk about other options. (Hello, IUD!) $84.13.”

Launched in 2016, Money Diaries hosts more than 100 diaries of women with various income levels and lifestyles—salaried, interns, students, travelers, mothers and brides-to-be. Followers live vicariously through the protagonists’ money decisions (Starbucks or free work coffee?). Some readers even weigh in, posting to The Conversation. Like this one from “Peaceful Phone:”

“I admire your decisions to pay off your student loans so quickly! I'm too nervous to give up the money I saved while living at home. It's nice to have a cushion for those unexpected expenses, but these student loans are brutal.”

Money has long been a sensitive, even taboo topic. The popularity of Money Diaries suggests that today’s Millennial women are ready, if not eager, to talk candidly about personal finance. This spells opportunity for banks and credit unions to build trust and confidence with this desirable cohort.

Not sure where to begin? First, get better acquainted with the Millennial woman. Get to know her preferences, values and key purchasing motivators. This blog is a good place to start.

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Nostalgia marketing is winning with Millennials: How your brand can benefit.

Nostalgia Marketing is Winning with Millennials - How Your Brand Can Benefit

Although they’re often viewed as a tech-savvy and forward-thinking generation, Millennials love an excuse to throw it back to the good ol’ days. They use apps like Timehop to resurface pictures from the past and are willing to pay top-dollar to see groups like Backstreet and Britney perform on their comeback tours. To leverage this, many brands are tapping into nostalgia to increase favorability of their products and encourage Millennials to open their wallets. But just how effective can nostalgia marketing be?


A sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.

Psychologists have been studying nostalgia for years. And although every generation and every individual expresses some degree of the word, Millennial nostalgia is a particularly interesting topic.

Millennials grew up in a period of economic turmoil. They saw the effects of the recession at a young age and are in the midst of a difficult job market. On top of that, Millennials have been inundated with technology and the internet for a large portion of their lives. The combination of these two might explain the reason so many 20- and 30-somethings are experiencing “early-onset nostalgia” – an information overload that compels them to remember simpler, easier times of the past.

Adidas and Sprite are two examples of brands that have tapped into Millennial nostalgia to recapture the market in recent years.

Adidas, a company that seemingly flew under the radar for the past decade, is seeing a major brand resurgence. In 2016, the company relaunched its classic Gazelle sneaker with an advertisement featuring Kate Moss that was shot and used 15 years prior (but with a slight twist).

Sprite, too, made a splash after bringing back its fan-favorite Sprite Remix last summer. Although it renamed the product Sprite Tropical Mix, Sprite kept the retro-inspired orange-on-white package design that fans loved from childhood.

More and more brands are using colors, flavors, music and fashion to tap into Millennial nostalgia. And with so many social networks in existence, they have their fair share of platforms to choose from when reaching their target audience.

If you’re considering using nostalgia to reach your brand’s Millennial consumers, it’s important to remember this: keep it sentimental, keep it lighthearted and keep it authentic. While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to nostalgia marketing, the right product, the right strategy and the right approach can have Millennials cracking smiles AND cracking their wallets open in no time.

Looking for more trends and insights? Subscribe to our Brogan Weekly Recap.

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Weekly Recap - April 21, 2017

Can a social media platform sweat? Snapchat’s about to find out. Rival Instagram has run away with its Stories app, reaching more than 200 million users a day. Adweek is TV gazing, searcing for the hottest genres and the consumer groups that watch them. Did you know 75 percent of TV watchers are no longer in a committed single-screen relationship? Perhaps it’s time to engage in a multimedia campaign. Native, anyone? Take a look.

DETAILS, please

Should Snapchat be worried about Instagram Stories' success? Instagram Stories is now more popular than the app it cloned.

Infographic: Who’s watching TV’s biggest shows and how their interests align with brands. While digital campaigns can be targeted to consumers with uber-specific interests, television advertising, in comparison, can sometimes feel like a shot in the dark.

Need to supplement your social media marketing? Try native advertising. Brands that use it well have experienced record returns on investment.

Meanwhile back at the RANCH

This healthcare system treats patients as valued customers. North Memorial is making sure patients are seen and heard.

Burger King, McDonalds and Google: A lesson in multimedia marketing. What happens when two fast food chains involve Google and personal assistants?

When agency work feels more like a mission. Sounds like social marketing. Meet our latest client crush, Reading Works Detroit. We’re helping them tackle adult illiteracy. You can too.

THE Topic of conversation

Visual communication. Did you know that 93 percent of communication is visual? Amplify your marketing and discover how your brand can communicate visually. Download our latest free guide, "Communicating with Visuals."


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Burger King, McDonald's and Google: A lesson in multimedia marketing.

By now, our Google Alexa has gone crazy over “what is the Whopper burger” and yes, we’ve Googled that other “place where the coke tastes SO good.”

Why? Because TV and video alone cannot successfully reach a target audience. Today, consumers are even more connected than they’d like to admit. Especially, when watching TV. According to Facebook, 68 percent of people access their mobile device while they watch TV, while 75 percent access a second screen. We’re connected. We’re on multiple screens, devices and personal assistants.

With that said, brands are acknowledging this and including them within their marketing. To advertise their Whopper burger, Burger King debuted a :15 second video ad that triggered Google Homes to answer the question, engaging the viewer and their device at the same time.

Google quickly disabled the ad from engaging with the Google Homes. This didn’t stop Burger King. During late night TV, a second ad aired and hacked the voice activated device again.

And they’re not the only ones engaging (or encouraging engagement with) Google. McDonald’s decided to involve Google in their latest brand video, a little differently.

What do you think? Did Burger King violate personal assistants? Is McDonald’s response ad clever or petty? Excuse us while we go get a Coke and mull this over.

For more trends and insights, subscribe to the Brogan Weekly Recap.

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Weekly Recap - April 7, 2017

Be honest. Have you ever bought something based on its packaging? According to Adweek, 50 percent of all shoppers have. Consumers are also interested in virtual reality. In fact, this digital trend accounts for 24,200,000 searches on Google. Another thing boosting searches? Virality. HubSpot has everything brands need to know, if and when they go viral. Take a look. 

DETAILS, please

Infographic: How ads, packaging and smartphones affect what shoppers buy at the supermarket. Survey helps brand marketers decode the path to purchase.

How do consumers really feel about 2017’s digital trends? There are some exciting digital trends causing a big buzz in the brand world.

Virality: 12 small brands that made it big. When you think of viral marketing, your mind probably wanders to that Oreos "You can still dunk in the dark" tweet, which garnered an enviable 40,000 retweets and Facebook likes during 2013's Super Bowl power outage.

Meanwhile back at the RANCH

How marketers and users can benefit from virtual reality. Virtual Reality (VR) is becoming one of the largest opportunities using sight and sound to create real experiences without actually being present.

THE Topic of conversation

Visual communication. Did you know that 93 percent of communication is visual? Amplify your marketing and discover how your brand can communicate visually. Download our latest free guide, "Communicating with Visuals."


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African Americans and banks: It's complicated.

African Americans and banks: It's complicated.


It’s how financial institutions refer to consumers who have no checking or savings account. Those who have an account and interact with payday lenders and other alternative financial services are called “underbanked.”

There’s lots of research connecting unbanked and underbanked to poverty. In other words, consumers with stronger financial institution relationships are generally more financially secure. This because they have access to affordable credit, savings products and resources.

At least a quarter of American households are unbanked or underbanked, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. And nearly half of African American households are unbanked or underbanked.

Why the disparity? According to CEB Iconoculture research, the primary factors are access, assets and attitudes.

Access, assets and attitudes.

Bank branches are generally less convenient to African American consumers (MagnifyMoney Research on Bank Branch Presentation, February 2016). There are 40.6 bank branches for every 100,000 people who live in majority white counties in the U.S., compared to 32 branches located in majority African American counties.

Then there’s the issue of wealth. African American families on average have less household income with which to work. A study released this year by Demos found that African American two-parent families have half the wealth of white single parents. Specifically,

  • The median two-parent black family had $16,000 in wealth.
  • The median single-parent white family had $35,800 in wealth (two-parent white families had $161,300).

These factors and more prompt African American consumers to be more likely to manage their personal finances with little or no outside help, according to CEB Iconoculture research. When asked why they prefer a DIY approach, African American respondents were more likely to point to the following reasons than the total survey audience:

  • My finances are simple (41 percent of African American respondents agreed versus 34 percent of all respondents.)
  • I don’t have much money to manage (35 percent of African American respondents versus 25 percent of all respondents.)
  • I can’t afford personal financial services (24 percent of African American respondents versus 19 percent of all respondents

Three ways banks and credit unions can help the unbanked and underbanked.

How can banks and credit unions connect to the underserved market? Flip the challenges and follow consumer values.

  1. Promote mobile banking. Mobile banking can help underserved consumers gain more access to financial services, according to an FDIC study. In addition to added convenience, mobile banking can give consumers greater control over finances. Alerts and tracking tools make it easier to avoid fees and track finances. First banks and credit unions must convince consumers that it’s safe to open an account online, which has thus far proven challenging.
  2. Become a trusted advisor. Trust is the foundation of every healthy relationship and imperative when money is involved. When it comes to financial services, African Americans consumers have practical expectations, according to CEB Iconoculture research. They are: do a good job managing my money, provide transparency, security and stick to the products and services that I need. Finally, demonstrate success.
  3. Accentuate the positive. The values most positively differentiated for African Americans compared to all U.S. consumers can provide important insights. They are belief, individuality, ambition and growth—ostensibly individual achievement and growth. African American Millennials tend to be more optimistic than their peers, according to a study by Richards/Lema and the University of Texas, Stan Richards School of Advertising and Public Relations.

Sign up for the free Brogan Marketing Statement for quarterly news and insights about financial services marketing.

6 ads that won Super Bowl LI.

It's the one night everybody channels their inner Don Draper.

Like the fictional "Mad Men" creative director, we carefully scrutinized the Super Bowl ad lineup, scoring spots based on creativity, memorability and relatability. We'd been waiting months for this very moment.

According to the Burson Marsteller Fan Experience (BMFE), 53 percent of Americans said they'd be disappointed if the Super Bowl went commercial free. They're also not going to watch the ads until the Big Game. Adweek noted that 61 percent of consumers did not plan on watching the commercials ahead of time. In fact, "We found a lot of people who'd prefer to see the ads for the first time during the game," Jason Teitler, BMFE chair said, "They want the surprise factor."

What type of ad do consumers enjoy the most?

  • 82 percent of respondents said humor
  • 10 percent said sentimental
  • 4 percent said ironic
  • 4 percent said racy

Which ads scored big? Let's run the play.

The rookies.

New to the lineup this year were Bai, Airbnb, Hulu, Febreeze, Mr. Clean and National Geographic. Let's take a look at who scored big.

  1. Humor.
    Bai: "Bai Bai Bai."

  1. Sentimental.
    Airbnb: "We Accept."

  1. Racy.
    Mr. Clean: "Cleaner of Your Dreams."

The veterans.

Which repeat advertiser were consumers most looking forward to see? According to Adweek, 39 percent said Budweiser, 29 percent said Coca-Cola and 18 percent said Audi. Honda and GoDaddy also made the list.

  1. Humor.
    T-Mobile: "#BagofUnlimited."

  1. Sentimental.
    NFL: "Inside these lines."

  1. Ironic.
    Buick: "Big Game Commercial With Cam Newton & Miranda Kerr."

The benched.

Doritos, Heinz, Butterfinger, Taco Bell, Toyota, Visa and many more did not play in last night's game. Why? Could it have been the entry fee. The average cost for a :30 time slot was $5 million. Who's to say? But it did have us wondering what they'll do next year.

What ads topped your list? Tell us in the comments below. For more trends and insights, sign up for the Brogan Weekly Recap.

3 things retailers need to know about this year's holiday shoppers.

How do you feel about holiday shopping? Are you excited? Completely dreading it? Or just adding it to your to-do list. Here are three things marketers need to know about this year's holiday shoppers.

  1. Consumers feel stressed and excited.

According to a CEB Iconoculture survey, consumers were asked:

Consumers feel stressed and excited

While stress does top the list of emotions felt during the holidays, consumers are also excited to participate in holiday traditions with friends and family. Not only are they trying to find the perfect gifts, they are just as excited to spend time decorating, gathering with loved ones for the holidays and celebrating the holidays.

  1. Spending is up.

So how much will consumers spend this holiday season? New reports find consumers will likely spend $656 billion this season. According to CEB Iconoculture research, consumers expect to spend an average of $936 this year during the holiday season. While some try and keep to a holiday budget, 64 percent of consumers said they usually spend more than they should, while 58 percent admit they never stick to a budget.

But it is not all spending for spending's sake. Consumers plan to search for deals. According to CEB Iconoculture research:

  • 46 percent spend a day searching for the best price
  • 33 percent search for discount codes
  • 26 percent travel more than one hour to get a deal
  • 23 percent line up at the doors before a store opens

What's the worst thing about holiday shopping? According to CEB Iconoculture research, 27 percent of those surveying said shopping in crowds while 20 percent said picking the right gift.

What are consumers interested in? Inspiration and practicality. While 27 percent do not like crowds, a fair amount will go in store for inspiration. Whether it is attending in-store events or browsing for gifts for loved ones, consumers will visit stores. Another driving force, practicality. This means immediate product experience and of course good discounts. One in two consumers say finding a good deal beforehand will definitely get consumers to shop in-store.

  1. How will consumers shop on multiple devices.

CEB Iconoculture research noted that 57 percent planned to shop on Cyber Monday. While this figure was noted before the two biggest shopping days of the year, Cyber Monday saw one of their biggest years yet. With a twelve percent increase since last year, Cyber Monday saw roughly $3.45 billion in sales this year.

According to CEB Iconoculture research, dollars will be spent across multiple devices:

How will consumers shop on multiple devices

Need more on holiday marketing? Check out 5 things brands need to know about Millennials and holidays.

5 holiday ads going viral for all the right reasons.

The Black Friday deals are (mostly) over and Cyber Monday has officially passed. Now that two of the biggest shopping days of the year are behind us, many brands are shifting gears from sales and promotions to deeper, more important messages this holiday season. But for some companies, blowout deals and doorbuster sales were never the focus of their brand spots in the first place. Five companies have been making a splash this holiday season with ads that center on more positive, impactful messages. Family, cultural acceptance, female empowerment and more, the refreshing messaging of these five holiday ads are scoring big with consumers and turning them into viral spots.

  1. Heathrow Airport – Coming Home for Christmas

You thought you’d seen all the adorable holiday ads in the book, until you see this touching spot from Heathrow Airport featuring two teddy bears flying home for the holidays. Heathrow’s ‘Coming Home for Christmas’ ad centers on the importance of reconnecting with loved ones during the holiday season and has garnered over 4 million views on YouTube in just two weeks.

  1. Amazon Prime – A Priest and Imam meet for a cup of tea

Amazon Prime delights consumers with an ad that rises above cultural and religious differences this holiday season. While Amazon Prime boasts free shipping and speedy delivery for members, the ad gets this message across without ever displaying a deal or promotion. Instead, consumers get a refreshing reminder that while we all have differences, there are more things that connect us than meets the eye.

  1. Xfinity – Hooking up Grandma’s House

Xfinity takes a comedic approach to holiday advertising in ‘Hooking up Grandma’s House,’ a spot that pokes fun at both tech-savvy millennials and their tech-lagging grandparents. Instead of plastering the spot with numbers and promotions about their service, Xfinity uses a unique storyline to show how unifying digital can be. While this ad has received some mixed reviews from consumers, its overarching message of unity and reconnecting with family during the holidays is something to be admired.

  1. Marks & Spencer - Christmas with love from Mrs. Claus

Marks & Spencer takes a unique stance on the story of Christmas Eve by following Mrs. Claus’ whereabouts instead of her husband’s. After Santa leaves for the evening, Mrs. Claus trades in her comfy clothes for leather gloves and a helicopter and takes it upon herself to make a boy’s holiday wish come true. The ad is heartfelt and touching and gives power to the female in a traditionally male-dominated storyline.

  1. Apple – Frankie’s Holiday

Frankenstein can sing? Not necessarily. But that’s not the focus of Apple’s spot, ‘Frankie’s Holiday.’ While many holiday ads suggest spending time with friends and family during the holiday, Apple reminds us that our loved ones may not be the only ones who need comfort this holiday season. This emotional ad breaks through the holiday noise and makes an important message of acceptance and inclusion clear.

So what’s the common thread? Why have all these brand spots been so successful? Instead of pointing out what the ads share, it’s what they all lack that makes them stand out: promotional deals. During the holiday season, focusing on more culturally-impactful messages could launch your brand into the spotlight and gain admiration from consumers who are sick of deal-centric messaging. So forget about 50 percent off and buy one get one, make your brand shine for its creativity this holiday season.

Have any favorite ads that didn’t make the list? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

See how Coca-Cola, Jet Blue and REI are standing out with their holiday campaigns in How to work the holidays like a brand star.

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Weekly Recap - November 24, 2016

Is Cyber Monday the new Black Friday? While it may be shifting this way, Digiday wants you to be careful when coming across news stories on Facebook and Google. Why? Some fake news stories are causing quite a stir for PR. But good news, this story (or shall we say Instagram Story) is true: Instagram now has live video and disappearing photos and videos. Take a look.

DETAILS, please

The shifting social landscape of Black Friday. What should retailers expect for this year's Black Friday?

Google is beating Facebook in the fake news PR war. When it comes to purging fake news stories Google is taking the lead (and responsibility). Will Facebook?

Instagram launches new feature to Instagram Stories. Live video and disappearing photos and videos have arrived to the platform.

Meanwhile back at the RANCH

Don’t send money this holiday, send them to college. Just in time for the holidays, presents the gift that truly keeps on giving in convenient gift card form. Grandparents take heed.

Everything marketers need to know about paid search. How many times have you searched for something online? How many of those times did you search from your mobile device?

THE Topic of conversation

Instagram. Learn how your business can use Instagram to build brand awareness and increase engagement. Download our free whitepaper "Why your business should be marketing on Instagram."


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Don’t send money this holiday, send them to college.

Just in time for the holidays, presents the gift that truly keeps on giving in convenient gift card form. Grandparents take heed.

You guessed it—plastic 529 gift cards that let people contribute directly into kids’ college funds. Shoppers will find them at ToysRUs and BabiesRUs retail stores.They can be bought in fixed amounts ranging from $25 to $500 that are associated with state-run 529 programs, where education funds grow tax-free. 


The card is redeemed by creating a GiftOfCollege profile that directs the money to their 529 plan. The buyer pays a fee for the service, ranging from $3.95 to $5.95, depending on the card's value. There is no fee to the recipient for redeeming the card.

Gifting to 529 plans isn’t a new idea. The Michigan Education Savings Plan made it possible years ago for family and friends to open and contribute to existing plans. You don’t even have to be a parent to open an account so long as you own it. 

It’s the packaging that makes the Gift of College gift card particularly bright and shiny.

It makes gifting to 529s all the more accessible—especially for the technology averse. And because it’s a card and not a bank account, it’s far more tangible. Now grandma has something to stick a bow onto and proffer properly. She can even hide it in the palm of those mittens she’s been knitting for her little darlings.

It will be interesting to see how this packaging twist plays out. Will the cards sell more 529 gifts or simply shift shoppers from online to check out line?

Got a thing for financial marketing? Sign up for the quarterly Marketing Statement. 


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