Banking made comfy

Overall winner Dominic Mercuri has kept TD Canada Trust at the head of the pack with integration deals, digital investment and a pair of lovable curmudgeons

 TD Canada Trust’s brand identity is built on the notion of making banking more comfortable, with its trademark big green chair driving the point home. But when you’re on a winning streak – ranked highest in customer satisfaction among the big five banks for five years running by J.D. Power and Associates, and six years by Synovate – it’s hardly the time to get too comfortable.
“If you look at the customer experience being delivered by some of our competitors, it’s much better today than it was five years ago, so we’ve had to keep investing and pushing forward,” says Dominic Mercuri, CMO and EVP, TD Bank Financial Group.
TD’s campaigns highlight the way customer needs are served by the bank – with a pair of grumpy old men acting as spokesmen for longer branch hours and personal assessments – while customer experience is monitored and measured at every communication point.
If Mercuri is fixated on quantifiable results, it’s for good reason.
“I started my career in a direct-marketing function, where everything is measured and quantified,” he says, referring back to his first marketing role at Allstate Insurance. “I believe in using customer insights to develop my strategy and, once I have a strategy, relentless execution against it.”
Mercuri joined Canada Trust as assistant VP of direct marketing in 1992, after stints with CIBC and Royal Bank. He became part of the TD Bank Financial Group in 2001, when Canada Trust merged with TD, and took the reins as CMO in 2004. He currently oversees a team of 400 marketers spread across Canada, the U.S. and Europe.
Having worked with Mercuri for a decade, John Boniface, COO, Draftfcb (TD’s AOR), has a good sense of what’s kept him in a corner office for so long.
“Dom is a thoughtful marketer,” Boniface says. “He thinks things through with the big picture and the longer term in mind, and does not hesitate to solicit recommendations from those around him whose opinion he trusts. He’ll weight these heavily but, in the end, [he’ll] make the decision – he will always have a point of view.”
He’s also inquisitive, Boniface says. “He likes to learn and he asks good questions – often these days a lost art. It’s his way of getting a 360-degree view of an issue or opportunity and challenging those who work with him.”

This approach no doubt came in handy as TD Canada Trust was seeking new ways to connect with consumers and stand its ground against media fragmentation.
As more and more viewers opt out of seeing commercials – via PVR, on-demand or watching television online – TD has invested heavily in integration.
With help from new media agency Starcom, and in partnership with CTVglobemedia, this spring TD launched “Up Close & Comfortable,” a series of behind-the-scenes chats with writers and directors from major network shows like Lost, American Idol, Dancing with the Stars and Grey’s Anatomy.
Seated in the trademark green chair, the series creatives talked about comfort within the context of their programs, underscoring the brand’s positioning and providing viewers with the inside scoop on their favourite shows.
Before this, in fall 2009, MediaCom helped TD partner with CBC to have bank branches worked into the plot lines of Being Erica, Heartland and Little Mosque on the Prairie.
“I have to admit, I’ve been a fan of product integration – you can see it’s worked well for the packaged goods industry for many years,” Mercuri says. “It gives us an opportunity to [reach people] in an environment where they’re more receptive to the brand, because it’s integrated right into the show.”
TD has also remained a heavy hitter with conventional TV spots. This year, seven new “Grumpy Old Men” executions from
Draftfcb continued to poke fun at the older, more traditional view of banking, with the campaign becoming the most successful in TD’s history.

The spot “Fatherly Advice” – which features a woman running into her curmudgeonly dad and his pal at the bank – drove a 70% increase in personal assessments over the previous year. Meanwhile, “Milk” – an ad that sees the pair mocking “mobile mortgage specialists,” reminiscing about the days when milk was the only thing delivered to your door – contributed to reaching 139% of campaign objective.
“These ads represent that we deliver against what’s important, in an interesting, humorous way that fits the TD brand,” Mercuri says.
TD’s desire to make banking more comfortable for all customers has also been underscored by its efforts to welcome the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community into its branches. The FI’s sponsorship of LGBT events in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver has put TD at the top of the unaided recall list of corporate sponsors for these events, Mercuri says, and TD has seen a 75% increase in employees signing up for same-sex benefits since beginning these commitments.
This year has also seen TD investing substantially in digital, with 18% of its marketing budget now spent in this arena.
“That’s up quite a bit from where it was three years ago,” Mercuri says. “We’ve been very active in making [digital] an important part of virtually every campaign we run.”
A recent frosh week program provides a strong example of how TD has been including digital in its plans. Launched in 2009 and repeated in 2010, “Pump It Up” offered university students the chance to win a free concert for their school featuring big-name artists such as The Stills and K-OS. To win, students needed to go online, vote for their school and mobilize their classmates to do the same – the university receiving votes from the highest proportion of its enrolled students would win. Twist Image acted as the key digital partner on this campaign.
The results were promising. In 2009, post-event stats showed that 98% of concert attendees knew TD was the sponsor and 79% felt more positive towards the brand, with the program ultimately resulting in a 54% year-over-year increase in incremental student account acquisitions.
TD also launched a Twitter account and YouTube page this year, and it’s among the world’s leading online financial services firms, with more than six million online customers.
“I think that’s one of the keys in our organization,” says Mercuri. “We’re not afraid to try things – and then we measure the heck out of them to know if we should try it again. The key for us is really about testing, learning and building.”
With Mercuri at the helm, the TD brand has climbed to number two in Interbrand’s “2010 Canadian Brands” and number 71 in BrandZ’s “Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands.” And the green chair – introduced in 2001, to usher in the rebranding of TD Canada Trust – has remained a highly recognizable visual asset, integrated into print, TV, digital and, of course, the branches themselves.
When asked how the brand’s identity has changed over the years, Mercuri says the shift has been less dramatic than you’d think.
“If you look at the heritage Canada Trust brand or the heritage TD Bank brand, you can find materials that were produced 50 years ago and they were all very customer-service oriented,” he says. “The messages were quite consistent with what we talk about today, which is delivering a comfortable customer service experience. While we represent it a little differently now, the brand has actually stayed fairly true over the years.”


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