Etrade Baby Quits Selling Online Stocks

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clockworkEtrade-300x199What makes a company successful? More specifically, what are the qualities of a successful marketing strategy? I think it is safe to say that almost every successful company has had an effective brand to coincide with its name. After all, what would Frosted Flakes be without Tony the Tiger? Or Geico without that adorable talking British gecko? It is obviously vital for a company to launch successful marketing projects or campaigns in order to best ensure the survivability and longevity of business. Which brings me to my current topic of choice–E-Trade’s decision to retire the talking baby ad campaign.

So after all this historic Superbowl excitement the Etrade baby quits selling online stocks. After a six year run, E-Trade has retired the talking baby and replaced their iconic ad with one starring Kevin Spacey. CMO of E-Trade Liza Landsman declares the baby ad was too “reflective of the past” and described the decision that most companies often face–knowing the perfect time to disrupt one’s own business. The baby ads began in 2008 after E-Trade took a $3 billion dollar hit due to the subprime mortgage disaster. After a new chief executive took over and the baby ads began to air, the company saw stocks jump 148%.

No one knows for sure just why these ads had such a positively explosive response. To be honest, the idea behind the ad isn’t all that novice. We’ve all seen talking babies or animals before. There are, however, several reasons why this ad and others like it tend to be successful. First of all, people love (and I mean LOVE) babies. Cute babies have been, are still and will continue to be popular simply because they are fun, pleasant, happy, etc. Babies make most people feel good–they are nostalgic, relatable and enjoyable to observe. Secondly, the talking baby ad enabled E-Trade to pitch a slew of conventional selling points that would’ve otherwise seemed boring or disconnected to the consumer. By using an “unconventional” source to deliver the message, such as the talking gecko, people tend to pay attention to information that would otherwise get dismissed. Last but not least, consumers typically relate to this kind of ad thus breeding the iconic nature of the campaign.

If there is ample evidence to support the E-Trade baby ad being a “no-brainer” of successful marketing, then why end it? This conundrum is what triggered my curiosity. Why would any business stop a seemingly successful marketing strategy? In this particular situation, Liza Landsman declared the talking baby was no longer projecting the appropriate message to consumers. She felt it fostered a sense of simplicity that contradicts the reality of the brand: online investing isn’t easy, it is complex and often times difficult. Having a talking baby promote the business gave consumers the impression that investing is “so easy even a baby can do it,” which, of course, is an incredulous idea. I found the most intriguing element to this tale is that it supports a timeless notion of sustainability.

“The brand ate the baby,” as Landsman puts it…obviously all good things must in fact come to an end. Even seamless, fool-proof success stories eventually run their course. But hey, the good news is we have a brand-spankin’ new Kevin Spacey ad to look forward to as the baby’s replacement. I think it’s safe to say Mr. Spacey has very large (or shall we say teeny) shoes to fill.

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