In 2019, when season one of the "That Made All the Difference" (TMATD) podcast launched as a part of Bank of America's new brand campaign, the company had a goal of driving positive perception by asking the question, "What would you like the power to do?" By uncovering and sharing a range of personal responses to that question through one-on-one interviews with influential guests, BofA aimed to inspire current customers and prospects to recognize their own capacity to drive positive change.
Objective and Context:
In 2019, Bank of America (BofA) launched a new brand campaign rooted in its objective to make financial lives better through the power of connection. As a demonstration of its brand purpose, BofA asked the question, "What would you like the power to do?" as a way to encourage people to examine their highest aspirations and ultimately drive positive perceptions of its brand.
For BofA to inspire people to visualize and reach their personal ambitions, it would need to explore success stories through the lens of pivotal moments. The company wanted to inspire current and potential customers to realize their potential by exploring critical moments when influential figures recognized their power and achieved remarkable success. Thus, it used the second season of its "That Made All the Difference" podcast to focus specifically on stories emerging in response to the coronavirus pandemic and issues related to racial inequities. While TMATD's inaugural season highlighted inspirational moments, season two's diverse group of podcast guests functioned to address the uncertain times people were facing.
By focusing season two on a shared pivotal moment specific to its guests, BofA was able to create hyper-relevant content that resonated with its audience. With social distancing parameters in place, it had to transform its traditional in-studio experience to a remote recording format. By utilizing Zoom, Google Meet, and Apple's Voice Memo app, BofA was able to create a safe recording environment for its host and guests.
With 68 million Americans listening to the podcasts each week in 2020, BofA continued to highlight these stories across this unique storytelling medium for their massive audience. Its target were adults ages 25-to 64-years-old with over $50,000 in investible assets. Moreover, the vast majority of BofA's audience has a bachelor's degree or higher and is employed full-time. Leaning on these insights, the company set out to reach a well-informed audience that cared to understand the news affecting their country and local communities. An original weekly podcast would allow BofA to start a timely and highly relevant dialogue that would help build and nurture deeper connections with its broad audience.
BofA aimed to deliver on its brand purpose through responsible growth efforts focused on the company's environmental, social, and governance (ESG) leadership. An important part of this work was building strong partnerships with nonprofits and advocacy groups, as BofA was committed to supporting local communities in need as they faced unprecedented challenges.
To highlight this work and give a stage to its partners, BofA leveraged its original podcast and tapped into its existing subscriber base. In partnership with the New York Times (NYT), the company developed season two of "That Made All the Difference," a weekly podcast series hosted by BofA executive, Alicia Burke comprising of 20-to 30-minute interviews with influential guests. Burke talked with people such as President and CEO of the National Urban League Marc Morial, educator Sal Khan, small business owner Lisa Ludwinski, and Director of Philosophy at Patagonia Vincent Stanley. Each spoke candidly about the universal impact of both the coronavirus and racial inequality.
Overall Campaign Execution:
BofA distributed the seven-part series across NYT's network and all popular podcast players including Apple, Spotify, Google Play, and Sticher. Building on season one's learnings, the company optimized its media plan to shift investment out of standard display units and into dynamically-served audio placements within popular NYT podcasts to reach current podcast listeners. Furthermore, the company leveraged insights on how new podcasts are discovered and focused its remaining investment on mobile units to further driver listenership. It also distributed episode-specific ad units across smart speakers and encouraged engagement through organic social promotion from BofA handles and tweets from its podcast guests.
BofA's website leveraged Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) to responsively optimize the display via media queries across all device resolutions. This ensured that its content rendered clearly for all mobile users, regardless of what device they used. In addition, the site was fully accessible, so it could support visitors with various differences in sensory or physical deficiencies. The site also offered a dictation feature, allowing visitors to adjust the visual contrast of the text, and it includes several other optimizations for browsing on mobile.
The seven episodes of season two of TMATD received over 59,000 listens as of October 4th, 2020, helping to maintain its spot in the top 5 percent of all podcasts. People listened to over six million total minutes of its custom content and watched 73 percent of all episodes on average. Moreover, the podcast earned a 4.5/5 stars rating by Apple Podcast. Most importantly, BofA increased positive opinions of its brand to 56 percent, more than 15 percent over benchmark.