Humor in Financial Advertising, Example #3: E*trade

Laura Pryor 01/17/23 - 4:09 pm

According to the American Psychological Association, money is the top cause of stress in the United States. Stretching our dollars is a day-to-day concern, so seeing news stories about mega-millionaires or just watching our boss leave work early in his Lamborghini can really tick us off.

Online investing service E*Trade tells us, “Don’t get mad. Get E*Trade.” Created by agency MullenLowe of Boston, the campaign uses hilariously exaggerated examples of the things that make us mad—and then presents their service as the answer.

The spot that launches the campaign features an office worker who arrives at work to see a higher-up executive park his fancy sports car across two parking spots; he spies him again later in his posh office with his feet up on the desk. From there the scenes of lavish wealth and excess (imagined by our office worker) get more and more ridiculous, backed by the song “If I Were a Rich Man” from Fiddler on the Roof, until he arrives at his cubicle and pulls up the E*Trade site.

In another spot, titled, “This is getting old,” E*Trade’s campaign exaggerates a common fear: that we’ll be unable to retire, and will be forced to keep working into our golden years. The spot shows seniors in their 80s and 90s punching the clock as tech support workers, delivery people, and brain surgeons. There’s even a senior stunt man and a club DJ who calls herself “DJ Nana.” Then the footage freezes and a super gives us this sobering statistic: Over 1/3 of Americans have no retirement savings. But don’t get mad about it—get E*Trade and start investing.

Why we love it

Though it’s not particularly logical, most of us resent the rich while secretly wanting to be them. E*Trade taps into this paradox, empathizing with us: Look how terrible the rich are! But by making the situations wildly exaggerated, the viewer gets a good laugh out of what normally would make them angry.

In the retirement spot, E*Trade once again taps into a common emotion: fear of aging. Do we really want to be delivering packages or providing tech support into our 80s? E*Trade shows seniors performing these jobs with such pluck and enthusiasm, it warms our hearts. But we still don’t want to be in their orthopedic shoes.

Every day, Brogan & Partners seeks to create advertising that connects with people emotionally. These spots not only do that, they also use humor to take the sting out of what makes us angry or afraid. Then they leave us on a bright note: E*Trade will help us feel better with investment services and advice.

This is post #3 in our blog series, Funny Money: Using Humor in Financial Advertising.

Blog Category: Financial Services

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