Experiencing the ‘BMO Effect’

A new brand platform adds some humour to the bank's focus on the "human touch."

BMO is looking to attract new customers by allowing them to experience what banking there feels like in a campaign launching its new brand platform, “The BMO Effect.”

In a series of videos, customers banking with BMO react with surprise and skepticism when staff defy what they expect from a bank, be it an advisor willing to transfer automatic payments to a new account themselves, getting a phone call from a real human (instead of an automated message) or even receiving a simple “hello” while they’re in the branch.

The campaign will run in English and French on TV across Canada, as well as in Illinois and Wisconsin, the bank’s key U.S. markets. There will also be outdoor executions in the U.S., with a social and digital play currently being planned for both countries. The new platform was led by FCB Toronto with support from FCB Chicago, both of which were added to the bank’s agency roster last year. Maxus handled the media buy.

In late 2014, BMO underwent a brand refresh that was more focused on the “human touch” the bank provides, complete with a new “We’re here to help” tagline. Connie Stefankiewicz, CMO for BMO Financial Group, says the initial refresh was focused more internally on staff and existing customers. With the launch of “The BMO Effect,” the bank is turning towards potential new customers to show them what banking with BMO is like.

“Most organizations can say they’re here to help, but the difference is in how you do it, and that’s what we’re focusing on,” Stefankiewicz says. “The reality is BMO is an experience brand, so the idea behind the campaign is to give potential customers an opportunity to peek in and see what it’s like to be one of our customers.”

While the focus is currently on the in-branch experience, Stefankiewicz says BMO will be extending the new platform to its other channels and lines of business. One of the new spots launched this week features staff checking in with customers by phone at home.

The new spots take more of a humorous tone towards how BMO’s “human touch” goes against preconceived notions people might have about banking, as opposed to the more serious or heartwarming approach brands, including BMO, have pursued in the past when trying to make an emotional connection.

“We wanted to create a sense that we are people as well as bankers,” Stefankiewicz says. “We still want to create an emotional connection with consumers, but want to do it in a way that plays off the low expectations people have and surprise them when those are exceeded and you have a genuine human connection. After testing it, the sense we have is this campaign really does differentiate BMO and the experience in ways that are unexpected and somewhat charming.”