E-Trade’s New “Don’t Get Mad” Campaign Is All Problem, No Solution — But I’m Rooting For It Anyway

by Barak Kassar

Part of me loves the new set of ads from online stock trading platform E-Trade. They’re funny. They’re creative. They’re visually arresting.

But they fall short strategically. Watch a few and I’ll say why in a minute.

The ads do a good job creating an enemy. And enemies (real or otherwise) can be dramatically powerful marketing tools. History has many successful political and commercial communications campaigns that have relied on identifying and vilifying an enemy.  Erm, think Donald Trump.

But you generally need to communicate something other than “the enemy is horrible.” You need to say why you are a good alternative—a solution to the problem of the enemy. And these ads just don’t do that. They’re 100% problem and 0% solution. They spend no time on why not getting mad but getting E-Trade is a good thing.

The ads imply it by saying, I suppose, that trading on E-Trade can make you money without  costing you a lot of money.

More confusingly, the ads seem to imply that E-Trade can get you in the club that’s currently pissing you off.

There is a huge mental gap here that E-Trade does not close for the viewer.

I hope I’m wrong because I do like these.

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Prior to co-founding BKW (formerly Rassak), Barak served as CEO of INBOXTV, VP Marketing for CHOW.com (acquired by CNET/CBS); and an early marketing manager at Wink Communications (acquired by Liberty Media).

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One thought on “E-Trade’s New “Don’t Get Mad” Campaign Is All Problem, No Solution — But I’m Rooting For It Anyway

  1. These ads seem to be saying etrade is some sort of panacea for class woes and manages to be insulting to middle and working class viewers. The distasteful ads are reason enough for me to completely rule out etrade as an option. It also seems to suffer from a underpants gnomes issue.

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