Talking Baby Ads Working, but E*Trade Not So Much – How Does That Work?

I recently read a very interesting–and puzzling–article in¬†AdvertisingAge about E*Trade’s recent management shakeup. The company is apparently searching for a new CEO after unexpectedly parting with its current CEO in August. The article goes on to talk about the company’s stock slump and general poor performance. The surprising part, to me, is that despite this poor performance the company indicates that it is standing behind its talking baby campaign which includes a spot that was 4th-best-liked in the 2012 Super Bowl.

So, I can’t help but wonder, what is the objective behind this advertising campaign? While the article goes on to say that the campaign “is working,” and points to an increase in numbers of new accounts, to me there seems to be a disconnect between poor overall company performance and “effective” marketing.

Company spokespeople point to an overall market decline as the primary impact on its business and the need for a long-term strategy designed to increase awareness among young people who are not yet in the investment market. Okay, I get that and I agree that raising awareness through the clever baby spots may do just that at the point when these young investors are ready to choose an online broker.

Yet, it does seem to be a significant leap of faith given an advertising spend in measured media of $129.5 million according to the article. Clearly the advertising/marketing leaders at the firm are doing a good job of convincing leadership that this investment is paying off despite lackluster bottom line business results. That, unfortunately, is a skill that I have not been able to master.

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