Retirement not the only valid message

(Re: Viewpoint: 'AGF paints its canvas with pure branding message,' by John Burghardt) Dear John: I read with interest your recent article in the Feb. 28 edition of Strategy. I concur with many of your arguments in which you...

(Re: Viewpoint: ‘AGF paints its canvas with pure branding message,’ by John Burghardt)

Dear John:

I read with interest your recent article in the Feb. 28 edition of Strategy.

I concur with many of your arguments in which you make the point that the category has become so cluttered that ‘we’re into a pure branding phase’. As a mutual fund marketer, our challenge is clearly to stand out from the crowd, but with more individual mutual funds in Canada than stocks – each of which making the claim that ‘theirs is a higher performer than the next’ – one has to focus on a ‘pure branding message’ in order to differentiate.

What I also contend, however, is that AGF has successfully served to focus the investor’s attention on the topic of ‘retirement’ as the focal point of one’s investment behaviour. If we look at the variety of ads being served up both here in Canada and in the U.S. by our formidable competitors, it’s clear that retirement has become the rallying cry for investment.

While not necessarily a bad thing in its own right, this focus on retirement does open up a whole other end of the spectrum for those investors who are not necessarily investing for retirement which, according to our research, is quite large a group.

Be it a vacation, a child’s education, a mini-van, a legacy for one’s family, retirement is but one overall objective in one’s overall financial planning process.

And that’s where we feel we’ve identified and capitalized on a different niche, a different message, which gives investors permission to ‘live their whole life’ by not just investing for retirement. I hope you’ve been able to catch our TV and print spots – we’re getting some great feedback and look forward to continuing to start a new wave of mutual fund brand awareness.

Eric W. Grove

Vice-President, Marketing

Elliott & Page

Toronto, Ont.

From Karen Howe’s dining table: Creativity, COVID and Cannes

ICYMI, The Township's founder gathers the best of the best campaigns and trends so far.

Cannes Base Camp

By Karen Howe

I’m attending Cannes from the glory of my dining room table. There’s not a palm tree in sight, yet inspiration and intel are present in abundance.

Cannes Lions is a global cultural pulse check. The social course correction in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and BLM has delivered far greater diversity in the judging panels as well as the work. And we are all better for it.

I’m proud to say that creativity defeated COVID, which speaks to its power. Great work and big ideas flourished, despite unimaginable odds.

The work from the past two years spans a vast emotional range. From the profundity of Dove’s “Courage is Beautiful” to the hyper exuberance of Burberry’s “Festive,” they are opposite ends of the spectrum, but each answered a need in us.

Take note, the ascendency of gaming cannot be understated. Smart brands have embraced the channel. It makes sense, because gamers participate to meet others around the world, not just to play. And they represent a huge and powerful community. That’s why QSR Wendy’s gamified their iconic gal in RPG’s Feast of Legends.

Burger King sponsored the unknown Stevenage Football Club, transforming the team into online heroes and vaulting BK into the fray at the same time. Once again, the brand embedded itself in culture.

The birth of gaming tourism arrived when Xbox snuggled up to travel guides and created a brilliant baby: a travel guide for gaming worlds. It, too, embedded itself in culture.

From the standpoint of social good, Reporter Without Borders showed how it worked with Mindcraft for its “Uncensored Library” to bypass press censorship, with Minecraft providing a loophole to a space where young people could be educated. It provided youth with a powerful tool to fight oppression: truth.

COVID changed us in unexpected ways. We learned how to pay attention again and there was a notable lack of 30-second commercials. Instead, longer format content thrived. Apple’s WFH was seven minutes long. Entertainment reigned king, so we find ourselves returning to our advertising roots.

Seeing competitive brands form partnerships was one of this year’s other great surprises. The brilliantly simple “Beer Cap Project” by Aguila to reduce binge-drinking saw the brand reach out to competitive beers to join in. Aguila put incentivizing (keyword: free) reminders to drink water, eat food and get home safely on its bottle caps from all sorts of fast food chains, ride-share co’s and H2O brands.

On a personal level, I’m so proud of Canada again this year. Given that it was two years of work from all over the world being judged, even making the Cannes shortlist was an accomplishment. Canada is herding in the Lions in tremendous numbers – and it’s not even over. Fingers are crossed.

KAREN-HOWE-PIC-higher-rez-300x263Karen Howe is a Canadian Cannes Advisory Board Member and founder of The Township Group