BMO InvestorLine hits the links for RSP season

Participation up 165% for 2003

You know the stereotype of the wealthy, avuncular executive who is said to work hard but is more often seen on the golf course than off? Well, it’s all true! At least, that’s the sentiment BMO played on for its InvestorLine service and its online Ultimate Golf Getaway contest, which made record gains in participation this past RRSP season.

BMO, which is headquartered in Toronto, paired up with Toronto-based direct agency Tribal DDB Canada to extend the golf contest into a third year, but this time with a new twist. Instead of giving contestants the chance to win golf vacations off the bat, they had to first play a round or two of virtual golf.

The national campaign was developed to cut through the clutter around the RRSP season and ran from Feb. 2 to March 31, one month after the deadline for RRSP contributions.

The goal

To increase market share by retaining existing clients and acquiring new ones, and to increase participation rates over a similar promotion done in each of the previous two years. ‘We wanted to have advertising that was more distinct and more interactive,’ says Kelly Harper, senior marketing manager for BMO Investorline.

To that end, Tribal developed a Flash-based golf game that challenged players to sink a putt or drive down the fairway while learning about products and services from InvestorLine, a service that allows consumers to self-direct their investments electronically.

The strategy

The target was males aged 40 to 55 who were typically affluent and avid golfers. Harper divides these into two types: life-goal planners and serious investors. The former is looking to exercise more control over his portfolio while the latter is concerned with frequent trading.

InvestorLine’s positioning within the market is as a learning tool, and the choice of game was meant to leverage that by having players ‘learn’ to play golf, then ‘apply’ that learning, with the chance to win the grand prize of a trip to Hawaii to take lessons and actually play, says Neil McPhedran, account director at Tribal DDB.

Harper attributes the subscriber increases the campaign ultimately scored to the lure of the prizing and adds: ‘There was a much broader appeal this year. Our strategy with the quiz was less about pure product and service and more about applying [the knowledge of self-investing.]‘

The execution

The focus of the campaign was online although there was some offline DM and print by Toronto-based agency Rapp Collins designed to direct consumers to the microsite.

There were two ad elements used in the online campaign: buttons and small banner ads that clicked through to the InvestorLine microsite; and, to generate awareness, large banner ads containing the Flash game itself.

The game was run on investor-related sites such as globeinvestor.com and in the business section of Macleans.ca. Players would take a swing and, depending on how well they performed, they would get a specific message encouraging them to visit the microsite where they could obtain more information about InvestorLine and sign up for the service. If the shot was not so good, the message encouraged them to enter the contest for a chance to win free lessons at Byron Nelson Golf School in Dallas, Tex.

After each hole, players were also encouraged to challenge their friends via e-mail to try and beat their score.

To participate fully in the promotion, players had to become InvestorLine clients, at which point they would receive weekly quizzes, which increased their chance of winning.

The results

BMO was looking to increase participation by 30% over 2002. The final result was a 165% increase. Over 2,500 hours of gameplay were logged, representing 54,000 individual game sessions. Players sent 500 challenges to friends. Most heartening for BMO: the percentage of people that played and ultimately opened up accounts with InvestorLine was 15%.