A UBS Campaign Humanizes the Financial Services Industry: Now What?

December 16, 2015 Tony D'Angelo

UBS Sign in Zurich

At 6:15 the other morning, it was time for my fix of news from the markets. I was in the middle of a quick workout, doing sit-ups, and catching some CNBC, when an increasingly rare thing happened—a TV ad caught my attention.

I stopped what I was doing. Words in the form of questions on a stark white background started to appear:

“Have I been a good father?”

“Should we start a business?”

“Will you be OK when I am gone?”

Who was behind this ad? Twenty-four seconds in, I learned it was UBS.


As a marketer, I was compelled to research the details of the broader campaign and who had created it. Johan Jervoe, the recently hired CMO (and former executive at McDonald’s), is the guiding hand. I searched the Internet and watched several versions of the ad—the messaging tailored both to consumers who have wealth management needs and to those with more general needs.

Why exactly did this ad catch my attention? Let me explain.

TLack of emotion in the financial services industryhe Lack of Emotion in Financial Services

In the financial services industry, eliciting positive emotion can be tricky, and creative campaigns that stand out are few and far between. This spot has done several things well. Most noticeably, it provides contrast (in more ways than one). The gray words appear on a white background with mellow music, contrasting the staccato audio and visual overload of the rest of the CNBC telecast. The calming tone of the ad leads the viewer on a short journey of introspection. This contrasts sharply with what the dim CNBC and the rest of financial services industry emits. During the 20 minutes surrounding the UBS spot, I was blasted with “ETFs, low fees, performance, indexes,” and lots of charts and numbers.

The ad also paves the way for many possible payoffs, one of which being that it offers the viewer reassurance. Let’s put financial products aside for a moment. Behind each question that this campaign poses exists countless stories of human experience. These are life’s important stories—honing in on the difficult decisions throughout the journey—that are relatable and inspiring.

Think about it. If a bank can provide inspiration, it has won.

The ad gains some attention and sparks some interest. But there has to be more after ushering in this breath of humanity into financial services—UBS cannot let this breath be ushered back out. There are increasingly effective ways to build upon this humanity by offering consumers and investors stories that they can relate to. In this respect, UBS has an opportunity to build and own its audience, and with it, develop an edge on the competition.

The Stories Beyond the Campaign

We know that buying media is expensive. And we know that interrupt advertising is becoming less and less effective. So with a campaign like Life’s Questions, there is an opportunity to provide lots of additional content in the form of stories that consumers can read on their own terms. These stories will be available long after the media buy has come to an end. Who is capturing these stories? Who is producing them? How will they be told? With the right content marketing strategy, these stories will effortlessly find their way to the consumer. It is easy to imagine many stories to which the investing public will relate and ultimately share.

How will Mr. Jervoe pay this campaign off?

The Cast of Modern Family at Golden Globe AwardsIt is very plausible to create a destination that houses stories that address these life questions. With an increasingly multicultural society and families that are becoming more “modern” than “traditional,” the textures to these stories are endless. Mr. Jervoe has set UBS up to reap much earned media after the campaign is over. Why? Because behind each question there are a variety of corresponding stories that consumers will find interesting. People share and comment on stories that they love. The door is open to provide both education and entertainment value that fits within the regulatory constraints of the financial services industry and would earn UBS major attention for doing so.


In the age where the consumer seeks great content through search, brands like UBS can become a destination. Tracking the consumption of this content and understanding their sentiment toward it have never been more explicit. UBS can create quality, custom content, at scale. In doing so, UBS would gain a valuable view into the fears, joys, goals of consumers. The stories that receive the most attention will give a sense as to what topics are weighing on the minds of the consumer. These are insights on which UBS will be able to take further action. I’ll be watching to see how this plays out.

If you’re interested in reading more stories about content marketing strategy, subscribe to the Content Standard Newsletter

The post A UBS Campaign Humanizes the Financial Services Industry: Now What? appeared first on The Content Standard by Skyword.


About the Author


More Content by Tony D'Angelo
Previous Article
Why Financial Services Brands Need Content Marketing Now More than Ever
Why Financial Services Brands Need Content Marketing Now More than Ever

Millennials and Baby Boomers are at a financial turning point. Do financial services firms have content mar...

Next Article
3 Marketing Campaign Opportunities Financial Service Brands Missed
3 Marketing Campaign Opportunities Financial Service Brands Missed

Financial services brands can grow reach and engagement through a marketing campaign that is part of long-t...