From Talking Baby to Kevin Spacey: The Evolution of E*TRADE’s Marketing Strategy

by on May 12, 2014

E*TRADE recently unveiled its new “Type E*” campaign Etrade_type_einvolving digital, mobile and social marketing,
along with a series of TV commercials that aims to attract a more sophisticated, digitally minded and industry educated investor. The firstcommercial, which was released on April 5, features Type E* investors dancing and singing to express their joy at mastering their finances. The second phase, launched later in April, features two-time Academy Award Winner Kevin Spacey seeking out “Type E*” style investors.

Purpose of the Type E* Campaign
In a recent press release, Liza Landsman, Chief Marketing Officer at E*TRADE Financial, discusses the firm’s desire to better appeal to current customers today. She defines Type E* investors as those who want to manage their accounts on their terms and are “not afraid to ask for help when they need it.” This new theme of the empowered and independent investor is also reflected in the firm’s online marketing, both on its public site and social media channels. The firm employs direct speech and creative writing to appeal directly to a self-motivated, Type E* style of customer.

ETRADEs_Public_Homepage_Banner (1)
E*TRADE’s Public Homepage Banner
E*TRADE’s Facebook Cover Photo
Departure from the Talking Baby
We all knew and loved him: E*TRADE’s little baby with the deep, adult voice. He was adorable, personable and wise beyond his years. Most importantly, he was effective at portraying E*TRADE as a brokerage site accessible to the average American.


E*TRADE’s Famous Talking Baby
While the new Type E* campaign maintains the energy and uniqueness of the talking baby, it appeals to a more elite, industry knowledgeable customer. As the new face of E*TRADE, Kevin Spacey acts as the firm’s “talent scout,” seeking out Type E* style investors in a new commercial added to the firm’s YouTube channel on April 13. As an established actor, and one who is wildly popular at the moment with his starring role in the hugely successful Netflix TV series House of Cards, Spacey adds relevance – and, just as his talking baby predecessor did before him, has a developed fan base that will look forward to his future commercials.

Kevin Spacey Talking to a Type E* Investor in New Commercial – E*TRADE Youtube Channel
Closing Thoughts
E*TRADE is not the first brokerage firm to use a celebrity in a marketing campaign. In a news release in September of 2011, Ameriprise Financial announced that Academy Award-winning actor Tommy Lee Jones would start appearing in new commercials emphasizing the American spirit and Ameriprise Financial’s dedication to its clients, through good times and bad. Still today, Jones is an effective brand ambassador and, like Spacey, has a sophisticated and loyal fan base.

Though gimmicky a purpose they may serve, respected actors such as Spacey and Jones bring legitimacy and brand loyalty to their respective firms. The new Type E* campaign especially promotes this sense of loyalty as it cleverly appeals to a particular “type” of investor and includes its signature E* in the name of the campaign. Furthermore, in an age in which the Internet has allowed people to take charge of their finances and investing, the Type E* campaign validates investors’ independence and empowers them to, as the firm’s homepage aptly states, “be the boss of their own money.”