Baseline Advertising in Review

New excitement of RSP advertisingOkay, if government-run gambling is a voluntary tax on the stupid, then what are mutual funds?Whatever they are, 1993 was the year all we baby boomer Savers-and-Hoarders who've been trotting off to the trust company and squirrelling...

New excitement of RSP advertising

Okay, if government-run gambling is a voluntary tax on the stupid, then what are mutual funds?

Whatever they are, 1993 was the year all we baby boomer Savers-and-Hoarders who’ve been trotting off to the trust company and squirrelling away a few thou every February in a boring gic simply to cut our tax bite discovered the Magical Mutual Fund Casino of Our Dreams.

Come on yuppies. Bet that whole damn retirement savings bundle on a little Precious Metals Fund I know, ’cause nobody ever loses, baby.

You wanna go for 30% one year? Fifty per cent? Why not just double your money in one bonanzaramic year?

Why Bet a Buck with Bob Rae and that idiot Don Cherry when your life savings just exploded upwards by a hundred grand in six months? (Or, at least they would have if you’d just stuck the whole bundle in that Altamira thing that went through the roof.)

Well, kids, after a year of palpitations on that level, you might have expected to see a couple of mutual fund advertisements around January or February of ’94, soliciting contributions based on The New Excitement in RSPs.

And you did, you did. We have witnessed a veritable laboratory of market segmentation exercises. A PhD course in Positioning.

Red-hot outfits like Altamira and Dynamic were so cool. They ran these no-frills, practically pub-set ads listing funds with one-year growth rates like ninety-four-point-eight per cent. Ho hum, just the facts, m’am.

But those cheeky Altamira devils, flushed with success, couldn’t resist a series of four-color newspaper ads headed with quotes from financial experts like Joe Louis and Tennessee Williams, extolling the virtues of money for its own sake.

‘You can be young without money, but you can’t be old without it,’ says Tennessee. (I think he meant you especially can’t be old and gay without it.)

The folks at something called AGF Mutual Funds sic their tiger on us in four-color newspaper as well as television, I suspect in the belief we’ll be awed by the power and grace and sheer predatory greed implied by the mnemonic.

Only postgraduate students like me know they knocked off Bill Bernbach’s famous Dreyfus Fund lion, which prowled the subway entrances of New York’s Manhattan in the ’60s.

The resurrected Dreyfus lion we saw on u.s. channels this year looks like a knock-off of agf, instead of the other way around.

And speaking of television, where did an outfit called Trimark get all that money? I can remember when packaged goods companies spent like that. Wow.

Trimark shows us marvelous scenes of unparalleled ancestral wealth and chateau living, with the Stones’ wonderful You Can’t Always Get What You Want choir intro under. Right at the end, there’s a shot of a guy, well, just fishin’.

I think they’re hoping we won’t listen hard to the lyrics, and that we’ll think they’ll get us all those castles and servants after all, even though they’re legally only promising us a fishing trip.

Their power line is ‘We manage. To outperform.’ And that’s a weasel, too. But perhaps it grabs the don’t-bore-me-with-numbers-I’m-hungry-for-wealth crowd.

Moving further down the food chain, there’s the trusts and banks…where it all started…trying to hold the ole crowd of knee-jerk, gic people.

First Canadian Funds from Bank of Montreal shows us a half-page four-color newspaper ad of, so help me, mountain climbers’ feet, and advises The Little People to ‘Set your goals higher.’ Oh dear.

Royal Bank feels we should ‘join the millions of Canadians’ in something that’ll yield five-point-seven five per cent over five years.

This mind-bending news is punched home with an artist’s rendering of the letters ‘rsp’ made up of millions of Canadians standing, smiling at us, knowing their money is churning out 5.75%.

And walking by a Bank of Montreal, I saw a big window poster with some poor sucker’s face peering out, and the headline, ‘I was kind of planning on winning the lottery.’

Hey, Mutual Fund, rsp, Proline, what the heck, life’s always a gamble, eh?