UBS hunts for emotional connection in bid to put banking crisis behind it

UBS has launched its first global campaign since 2009 aimed at emotionally connecting with prospective customers and leaving negative media headlines behind.

The financial services company’s new campaign aims to showcase its four-year strategic transformation since Sergio Ermotti joined as CEO in 2011.

“One of our major strategic directions is that we’re being increasingly client-focused,” UBS chief marketing officer Johan Jervoe told Marketing Week.

“The campaign was about coming back out and committing to that complete transformation. We wanted to tell people that we are different to our competitors, but obviously the brand needs to support the business by also telling that story,” he said.

Beating bad headlines

The bank has been hit by bad publicity. Back in 2011, UBS lost over $2bn dollars as a result of unauthorised trading by a rogue trader.

In 2008, it also courted controversy when the US Federal Bureau of Investigation made a request to travel to Switzerland to probe a multi-billion-dollar tax evasion case involving the bank.

Emotional connections

Jervoe hopes the campaign will resonate emotionally with the bank’s target audience.

“It’s a very client-focused creative campaign, that starts with the questions that our clients might have,” he said.

To find out what its customers were thinking, the brand conducted more than 7,000 interviews to find out what motivates clients to use the bank.

“Talking in the voice of the client is a significant differentiator, which is what we’ve seen in our research. Many people felt emotionally connected with some of the questions in the ad,” he said.

People also feel emotionally connected to their finances more generally, which is something the brand wanted to play on.

“People want to make sure they can send their kids to school or start their own business, but there’s a big disconnect between the finance industry talking about themselves and their products and services, and what is on the minds of our clients,” he said.

“We wanted to ask the questions customers might have, and most campaigns don’t do that.”

Johan Jervoe, chief marketing officer at UBS

Digital first

The campaign, which launched today (1 September), features a brand film as well as advertising with images shot by renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz.

To reflect the media consumption of its client base, over 70% of the media investment for the campaign is focused on digital channels, including social media.

“We saw that our clients are predominantly digital when it comes to their media habits”, Jervoe said.

“Overall, our industry hasn’t corrected that. There’s nothing wrong with traditional advertising, but it shouldn’t be the majority of investment.”

There is also a big focus on mobile.

“We built a complete dashboard that includes real-time tracking on what’s working and what isn’t. We’re expecting to see a very robust amount of pick up around smartphone and tablet traffic,” he said.

The campaign also includes TV, print and out-of-home. The digital banner ads will link back to branded content that addresses the questions in the campaign, which is hosted on a microsite.

UBS has also introduced a new brand design, simpler tone of voice and sonic logo. The brand expects to run the first wave until the end of the year, and the brand will return early next year with a second push.

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