CIBC uses Aventura to give healthcare workers a break

In a time when most consumers aren't thinking about travel, the bank puts its rewards program to work by helping medical workers with a simple need.
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CIBC has, throughout its 154-year history, quickly stepped forward in times of crisis and need.

Rob Assimakopoulos, CMO at CIBC, recently came across pictures in the bank’s archives of banking centre employees providing financial services while wearing masks during the 1918 influenza pandemic. In more modern times, Assimakopoulos points to the financial institution’s CIBC Run for the Cure, Canada’s largest single day, volunteer-led event in support of breast cancer research.

Now, the bank is looking to make another positive contribution by showing its appreciation to Canadian frontline healthcare workers, with the launch of “CIBC Holiday for Heroes” campaign.

The program will provide 30 million Aventura points to give 200 workers a break when the pandemic is over and it is safe to travel. Canadians can nominate frontline healthcare workers to be celebrated for their efforts on CIBC’s website or by replying to the bank on social media, with the recipients randomly selected. The points, which never expire, can be redeemed for several different parts of the travel experience, such as flights, hotels and rental cars, to make the reward as flexible as possible. CIBC tells strategy that within the first 48 hours of the campaign, there were 10,000 nominations.

“Everyone recognizes the sacrifices frontline healthcare workers have made, particularly at this time. What we wanted to do was go beyond a simple ‘thank you,’ and to give our frontline healthcare workers something tangible,” Assimakopoulos says.

Assimakopoulos says a major consumer insight CIBC has been working with through all of its marketing and client interactions is that, in times of crisis, even the smallest ambitions are very difficult to fulfill. But for this campaign in particular, he says CIBC heard the common theme of frontline healthcare workers simply “needing a break.”

Frontline healthcare workers are going through a myriad of struggles that go beyond increased exposure to COVID-19. Last month, the national director of workplace mental health with the Canadian Mental Health Association told CTV News that frontline workers are among the groups the organization is most concerned about, citing higher levels of fear, uncertainty and anxiety related to contracting the disease and passing it on to their families.

As one of the leaders in the marketplace in providing travel benefits through Aventura, Assimakopoulos says, CIBC has a wealth of travel-related resources available to it, such as its partnership with Merit Travel. Even though consumer consideration for travel is currently extremely low, it still left the bank with an opportunity to use travel to that future break for frontline healthcare workers. Other campaigns in the travel and tourism sector have been built on the insight that simply having a trip to look forward to can improve someone’s mood.

Assimakopoulos says this campaign plays into the bank’s goal of being a relationship-oriented bank for a modern world. Like other brands, CIBC has had to pivot how it communicates that during the pandemic, shifting to promoting remote ways to bank and access services like money transfers. Assimakopoulos adds that many of the bank’s marketing as of late has been related to connecting people to both bank- and government-sponsored supports for clients worried about the state of their personal finances. Those include deferrals for mortgage and credit card payments, CEBA loans and “Advice For Today,” a new online hub featuring financial advice tailored to the current crisis.

“We build relationships by making proactive, positive gestures to your clients and community. And in a modern world, what you do is you offer flexibility [and] convenience,” he says. “The Aventura system is extremely flexible. So offering an incredibly flexible way to enjoy a break is very much in keeping with how Aventura delivers its value proposition. All of these things are linked, and all of these things are quite connected to how our brand manifests itself in our businesses.”

Creative for the campaign is running through a national social media buy, as well as in The Globe and Mail’s print and online properties. The campaign was developed and produced by Juniper Park\TBWA, with media by Mediacom.