6.12.2012

How Not to Market Investment Products

In today's New York Times, the financial services company State Street Global Advisors placed this advertisement in the International Section to promote its family of SPDR Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs). If you can't make out the image of the advertisement know that it is a listing of the firm's 100 plus ETFs by name. On top of the page is a simple headline and on the bottom is a listing of a toll-free phone number and a website address.

Based on the newspaper's current advertising rate schedule, it seems as though State Street spent north of $100,000 to place the advertisement, and for what? All the advertisement does is list the names of the firm's funds, nothing more, nothing less. Where's the call-to-action? Where's the incentive to respond? Where's the value or benefit to the consumer? Where or what's the compelling reason for the reader of the advertisement to engage and interact with the advertisement (brand)? And, how much may have been spent on other placements of the very same advertisement?


Does the company's marketing team really expect an investor to react and respond just by seeing a list of fund names? Why do I get the impression that they won't? Why do I get the impression that the vast majority of readers will simply turn the page and pay very little attention to the advertisement?

While some may believe that the placement of an advertisement like this is merely for furthering the reach and awareness of the brand, in my mind this is a far cry from brand-based advertising. Couldn't the firm's creative team, internal and/or external, craft something a bit more meaningful, intriguing, innovative, etc.? If the company and its investment products are to be considered cutting edge, shouldn't the marketing and advertising follow suit?

Lastly, with regard to measuring ROI for the ad, I'll assume the 1-866 phone number is dedicated to this advertisement but, what about the web address that's given? Judging from the URL, this is the company's main website, not a landing page that is specific to the ad. So, with any clicks to the website, how can State Street be certain they came as a result of this ad or any other the company might be running concurrently? Also, what could the company's possible objectives be for an advertisement such as this? Were there any?

Frankly, I wish I had such money to throw around and waste.

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