E*TRADE by Morgan Stanley: E*TRADE Brings Back the Baby to Connect with the Brand’s Past


Campaign Summary

Following a union with Morgan Stanley, E*TRADE resurrected an earlier brand character for a Super Bowl campaign to convey that its new brand remained consistent with its past history.



E*TRADE joined forces with Morgan Stanley in October 2020. Coming on the heels of the pandemic, when an estimated 20 million new retail investors entered the market, interest in investing had started to cool by the end of 2021, and the first signs of a bear market had begun. The pandemic-induced boom had bolstered many of E*TRADE's competitors, meaning there was more noise coming out of the category, with everyone fighting for attention from an increasingly disengaged audience.

On top of the category challenges, E*TRADE knew that its union with Morgan Stanley would require reconciling two seemingly opposite financial brands. For 40 years, E*TRADE had been committed to standing up for the Main Street investor who needed an easy way to access the markets. That position stood in stark contrast to Morgan Stanley's reputation as an 87-year-old Wall Street mainstay serving high-net-worth and institutional investors.

After decades of E*TRADE being pigeonholed in consumers' minds as only a place for retail trading, the union with Morgan Stanley gave investors access to a more robust offering, including a more complete advice offering and unrivaled intellectual capital. But to convince clients and prospects, E*TRADE knew it would have to walk a fine line between prompting reconsideration and potentially losing credibility with its core audiences.

The campaign's challenge was to rise above the category noise to spark interest and trust in E*TRADE's new integrated brand with an audience that was skeptical and overwhelmed by the post-pandemic state of finance.

Target Audience:

When introducing the E*TRADE from Morgan Stanley brand, the company focused on its widest core audience, whom it called "Emerging Affluents." These individuals are high earners living across the country who are financially aware and looking for guidance when it comes to financial planning. Research suggests that Emerging Affluents are year-round sports fans, with the Super Bowl being the crown jewel of the season. This insight was critical in helping E*TRADE to understand where to find this audience not just in-game, but in the days leading up to and following the Super Bowl in order to tell a coherent story and get the brand's message across.

Creative Strategy:

Creatively, E*TRADE sought a campaign that would celebrate everything that had made E*TRADE a revered brand for decades, reinforcing the fact that the E*TRADE consumers knew and loved wasn't going anywhere while simultaneously getting consumers excited about the future of investing with the new E*TRADE from Morgan Stanley. To accomplish this objective, E*TRADE decided to lean into nostalgia around the brand, reviving the iconic E*TRADE baby character to take over advertising's biggest day.

Doing so couldn't be accomplished with just a one-and-done ad; rather, a 360-campaign was needed to engage consumers at every level of the funnel with E*TRADE from Morgan Stanley. First, E*TRADE placed itself on the radar of its full audience by blanketing mass media such as the post-season NFL content and the general sports content that they loved. Post-game, the brand followed up with mid-funnel efforts across targeted digital video to move consumers down the funnel. Finally, E*TRADE translated the campaign to acquisition media with highly tailored messaging for the final push to conversion.


While this campaign represented the launch of a new chapter for the brand, E*TRADE enjoyed a storied tradition of culturally meaningful Super Bowl ads. E*TRADE leveraged learnings from those past experiences, such as success in streaming and social video, to inform how the brand showed up beyond just the Super Bowl ad itself. Seeking to engage consumers before, during, and after the big game, E*TRADE employed a video-first strategy with increased social support, digital, and PR strategies in addition to the ad buy which all worked in concert to achieve the brand's strategic business goals.


Overall Campaign Execution:

With the goal of making this standard Super Bowl ad buy into a fully integrated campaign, approximately half of the campaign media budget was allocated to pre- and post-game activations that centered around digital and social media.

First, to create a sense of anticipation and curiosity around the in-game spot, E*TRADE made a teaser video that was distributed through PR channels and a YouTube takeover, plus digital and social pre-roll leading up to the Super Bowl. This approach got E*TRADE on consumers' minds and laid the groundwork for the conversation around the brand's creative that would propel it ahead of other in-game advertisers.

Pre-game activations were meant to stir up anticipation among E*TRADE's core audience as well as advertising industry insiders in order to lay the foundation for an in-game moment that would be conversation-worthy. This approach ensured that E*TRADE's in-game message had maximum impact and amplification, reaching more eyes than the brand ever had before for a Super Bowl buy.

The in-game ad buy was meant to not only be entertaining, but to create a narrative which reinforced E*TRADE's commitment to its brand staying consistent as it joined with Morgan Stanley. E*TRADE did this through the re-introduction of its iconic E*TRADE baby, a beloved and highly recognizable character from the brand's early history.

Post-game, E*TRADE focused its dollars on re-engaging priority audiences through targeted digital and social channels — the places E*TRADE's audience flocked to post-game. By using its campaign message to remind its audience why they needed E*TRADE, the brand was able to drive efficient business results.

The combined power of PR buzz, entertainment, and consistent brand messaging across channels was essential in creating what has proven to be one of E*TRADE's most successful Super Bowl campaigns to date.

On Super Bowl Sunday, E*TRADE engaged with audiences on social and through the creation of reaction GIFs that viewers could use during and beyond the game.

Post-game, the brand not only continued to run versions of the spot on digital and social media, but also created acquisition-focused assets such as digital banners to drive interaction with its site and ultimately account openings. This phase of the campaign was where the majority of E*TRADE's budget was spent and likely played a key role in the success of the campaign.

Business Impact (including context, evaluation, and market impact)

To successfully introduce the E*TRADE from Morgan Stanley brand, the company had to strive to rise above the deafening category noise to capitalize on a unique moment in culture.

ACE Metrix scores measured within E*TRADE's core audience showed that the brand's creative surpassed financial industry benchmarks at a level of statistical significance across all categories including "likeability," "watchability," "information," and "relevance."

Categories: | Industries: | Objectives: Brand Experience | Awards: NA Bronze Winner