Festival Intelligence: Emotion pays off for financial brands | M&M Global

Festival Intelligence: Emotion pays off for financial brands

The financial industry has a long history of using serious language and imagery in its advertising to gain customers’ confidence in proving that brand X is the most reliable option on the market. But while the concept of ‘big risks come with big rewards – but potential big losses’ will be familiar to many financial institutions, brands that are daring to do something a little different instead of continuing to play it safe are starting to reap those rewards.

Stricter regulations mean that when it comes to selling financial services and products, advertisers certainly have their work cut out. Too often the main objectives for any financial advertising campaign is to highlight differentiation from competitors, boost brand perception and credibility, but increasingly more so the focus is to modernise and bring a human, emotional touch to the brand.

Digging into this year’s M&M Global Awards shortlist, the financial and utility services sector accounted for 10% of the entire shortlist, with campaigns originating mainly in the UK (33%), South Africa (25%), Canada (17%), Egypt (17%) and the US (8%).

Here are some of the key trends we uncovered:

Content, content, content – 100% of the entries from this sector were built on a solid content strategy foundation with a variety of methods including online content hubs, publishing partnerships and original integrations used to extend the content to a variety of targeted audiences.

Social at the heart – All the entries also had a social element to amplify financial brand campaigns. From Facebook to YouTube, Twitter and beyond, real-time connections, ‘always-on’ tactics and harnessing the power of social influencers across multiple formats is increasingly proving a necessity.

Following the customer journey – Entries displayed a greater focus on the customer journey and, harnessing the power of data, there was a clear steer towards intercepting consumers at key moments of relevance and being present in contextually relevant environments.

The human touch – In the drive towards more meaningful connections, financial brands are moving beyond the standard ‘one size fits all’ approach and tapping into human emotions to engage with their customers on a deeper level. Providing relatable content, based on strong and powerful insights, suggests that the financial sector is moving towards more personal communication and displaying elements of compassion, credibility and bravery.

For the two utility services companies shortlisted with the category, sustainability and environmental impact formed the focus of their campaigns. In addition to similar media approaches to those listed above, there was a focus on engaging through customers’ experiences and interests – with one campaign combining energy and music to create the first music video powered by the sun!

“Finance is often and notably absent from awards entries,” said Akama Ediomi Davies, Head of Brand Development at Oath UK. “This, understandably, is normally due to restrictions and sensitivities on sharing data. It would be great to see this change in future as the finance industry entries have such great potential to add real utility to consumers and have a lot of scope driving insight to consumer action, with robust ways to track attribution. From a media perspective there are sure to be learnings that all other industries could benefit from.”

Research from Zenith indicates that the fastest growing brands within the financial services category tend to perform strongly on measures such as share of category search and website traffic; along with effective content marketing and strong performance in earned digital media. It’s reassuring to see that the financial sector is finally waking up, embracing digital innovation and optimisation, and taking greater risks to drive positive perceptions through valuable content.

We put the spotlight on two M&M Global Awards 2018 shortlisted entries, which highlight this trend:

The Chronicles of Oufa | Egyptian Gulf Bank | Initiative | Egypt

Shortlisted for: Financial & Utility Services, The Effectiveness Award


Only 10% of the Egyptian population have bank accounts. In Egypt, there are 40 banks. The largest three have a combined market share of 40%. And then there’s EGBank; the tiny, unknown bank that historically focused on HNW individuals and B2B clients. Facing a turbulent economy and uncertain future, EGBank needed a growth strategy that would ensure future prosperity.

Understanding that a significant growth opportunity existed in the 90% of the population that was ‘un-banked’, research discovered that more than 70% of this audience were young Egyptians aged 16-26 years old. The target audience was clear but there was a problem: young Egyptians hate banks. “Deceitful”, “dreaded errand”, “confusing”, “conniving”, were just a few words this target was saying about the industry. EGBank now had a clear purpose: to transform into “THE bank for young Egyptians.”

For the first time in Egypt’s history, a bank was going to take the youth audience into account by creating a relevant narrative that speaks directly to their needs and desires and then provide a product (their first bank account) that would empower and improve their lives. To get the discussion started, the agency devised a two-prong communications strategy that broke the norms of ‘banking communication’. It shifted from formal stereotypical banking communication to creating humorous and relatable content that the TA could identify with. Doing so enabled it to differentiate EGBank from the competition and become the banking ally of an entire generation.


Uncover the Mortgage Truth | Manulife One | Mindshare | Canada

Shortlisted for: Financial & Utility Services, The Effectiveness Award


With only 1% market share and 2% SOV in the mortgage category, Manulife Bank awareness/consideration rates are low, making lack of brand familiarity a key barrier to growth. However, research showed that for those consumers who become aware and understand Manulife One believe it to be innovative and would consider. The opportunity for Manulife was to simply get more people aware and understanding the benefits of the product.

“Uncover the Mortgage Truth”, a disruptive statement to break mortgage renewers’ inertia, awakening their reality of feeling trapped by their mortgage. To capture attention, this was positioned as a covert operation with an ominous look and feel to be unique in the category, which is known for feel-good, happy imagery.

This brought the agency to a multi-tiered, 100% digital journey where it could control the delivery by stage and drive the consumer down the funnel. While multiple pieces of creative were developed across various formats to accommodate the journey, video was the centrepiece of the strategy. Netflix style video content was developed featuring a couple currently going through the mortgage renewal process. Over 28 pieces of digital & video content were created to deliver an engaging, multi-episode story in both English and French.

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