CIBC makes responsible spending more rewarding

The bank tries a new approach to reach cash-back card users, who tend to be more pragmatic than aspirational.
CIBC Dividend 3

Canadians don’t see much difference between the various rewards cards banks offer them, but CIBC has managed to zero in on a key difference in the way they use them, so it is trying to get cardholders that have a tendency to shop and spend responsibly to use their well-earned cash back rewards to treat themselves.

The campaign for the bank’s Dividend Visa Infiinite Card is informed by research conducted by the bank and agency partner Juniper Park\TBWA that showed what motivates holders of different cards and how they use their rewards.

“With a travel card, there’s a lot of aspiration tied into card usage,” explains Angela Sarino, the bank’s senior director of marketing communications. “You use the card, earn the points and get rewarded with the travel at the end of it. But with cashback, users are more pragmatic.”

Many Canadians use a cash-back card for responsible everyday expenses – especially now when most are prioritizing essential spending and keeping household budgets on track amid economic uncertainty – and then use their reward to make a pleasure purchase free of guilt. The bank, armed with that knowledge, set out to create a campaign that would get more “responsible” spenders to reward themselves.

In a new spot, after using the card on necessary purchases throughout the day, the main character rewards her “bestie” – her pet terrier – with a cute costume. The process of earning cash back is a part of it – showing her getting cash back on things like bill payments for streaming services, in addition to the typical “gas and grocery” categories – but the idea is to put more focus on the reward itself as a way to give cardholders “the credit for being a responsible spender,” Sarino says.

By tweaking that focus, the bank is hoping to differentiate its cash-back card – such cards have become an increasingly popular option for Canadians – from its competition, Sarino says. That’s a tall order, given that the common consumer perception is that there is little difference between different reward offerings.

“Banks are very much all in the same products,” she explains. “We didn’t see anybody in the competition focusing on the reward itself, and we felt that would be an interesting and different way to reach a more fiscally responsible audience.”

The bank is not the first to spotlight its cash-back rewards card. For its own Visa Infinite card, BMO tackled the lack of differentiation in the minds of consumers by making hundreds of pieces of personalized content based around different interests and lifestyles in order to help consumers contextualize rewards within their everyday lives.

The new campaign launched this month and includes TV, online video, social, digital and out-of-home elements.