Virtual Roundtable: Tackling financial anxieties

How leaders at TD, HomeEquity, Manulife and MediaCom are thinking about marketing during COVID-19.

Roundatble Group

This is the latest in a virtual roundtable series co-hosted by Strategy and Media in Canada that explores advertisers’ branding, marketing and media investment strategies throughout the COVID-19 crisis.

In this instalment, Media in Canada‘s Bree Rody and Strategy’s Justin Dallaire were joined by leaders in financial services marketing and media. Together, they delved into how some of the biggest brands are investing and planning through the pandemic, adjusting their strategies to meet economic uncertainty and consumers’ health and financial concerns.

The roundtable brought together Stacey Grant-Thompson, Canadian CMO at Manulife; Theresa McLaughlin, global CMO at TD Bank Group; Yvonne Ziomecki, CMO and EVP of marketing and sales at HomeEquity Bank; and Kieran Miles, SVP of strategy at MediaCom Canada. They were joined by Shaenie Colterjohn, group client director, and Penny Hicks, managing director of client partnerships, at The Globe and Mail. 

You can listen to the roundtable here, or view the video version below.

The conversation reveals the speed at which many organizations have pivoted to meet the needs of consumers concerned for their health and financial well-being. Organizations are diving more into digital, shifting sponsorship dollars away from live events and major venues (while finding new ways to support their partners), and moving towards content strategies aimed at informing and preparing their customers for an uncertain financial future.


Brands are communicating more frequently and offering financial advice to their customers

“There’s been a massive amplification in terms of the amount of communication we’ve been sending out as marketing – talking to customers so they’re aware of our programs, they’re reassured and they know they can count on us for help.” – Grant-Thompson

“We’re calling all of our existing customers, starting from the oldest… to check in on them and ask them how they’re doing… Amazing conversations happen when you’re not selling them anything. We actually had to book some follow-up calls, because [customers] asked us to keep checking in on them.” – Ziomecki

“There are big parts of the population that were five years way from retirement, and are looking for advice. And then [there's the] everyday advice around what consumers can do to manage their money… We’re providing content, through video and other forms, to make sure that we’re front-and-centre with our customers.” – McLaughlin

Consumer anxieties will outlive the worst of the pandemic

“A number of years ago, we re-launched our brand, and we talked about the fact that 79% of Canadians did not feel financially confident… This was before COVID happened.” – McLaughlin

“People who have considered going into a retirement home or long-term home are definitely revising their plans.” – Ziomecki

“In China, the fear of COVID has really lingered in market. As the lock-downs have come off, the fear of catching COVID has gone up, really. We see shoppers being quite tentative about returning.” – Miles

Brands are re-imagining sponsorship as events move online

“If you think about using sponsorships as a vehicle… there’s a role for experiential marketing, but there’s no doubt, in the world of physical distancing, we’re going to have to think differently about what that experience looks like.” – McLaughlin

“We really only use sponsorship in the CSR context, and I think in this case, what we’re seeing is all those things moving virtual.” – Grant-Thompson

“It’s about working with partners and balancing risk… We see a number of brands looking for opportunities as [their competitors] perhaps walked away a little bit from some of their event sponsorships or their sports sponsorships… What’s the risk of walking away?” – Miles