October 2012 Trends & Highlights – Crisis Communications, Election Impact and Football

by on Nov 14, 2012

In October, retail financial services firms once again demonstrated expertise in crisis communication as Hurricane Sandy became a pressing issue. The storm adversely affected millions of clients of the industry and shut down a number of financial institutions in New York City. Our Monitor groups tracked the industry’s online response to the storm. Also in October, the national elections continued to be a topic of importance for investment firms. On a lighter note, bank and credit card companies offered football tickets as part of promotions.

Crisis Communications – Hurricane Sandy
Leading up to the Hurricane, few firms posted pre-storm messages on their public websites. Unsurprisingly, property and casualty firms were the most active across our Monitor groups, with several offering preparation guidelines. Allstate posted a large banner image that highlighted five easy steps to prepare for the Hurricane. Amica posted a red alert at the top of its public website, advising customers to heed weather updates for Sandy as the Hurricane approached. GEICO posted an image on its public website with the headline “We are Ready for Severe Weather,” which linked to the GEICO catastrophe center. Other firms tracked by Corporate Insight posted notices stating when the U.S. equity markets were closed and reopened, and sent emails expressing concern for the people and communities hit by the storm.

Allstate “Are You Prepared?” Banner

2012 Election
The election continued to be a go-to topic for financial firms. Ameriprise, Aviva, Merrill Lynch, MFS and Putnam all promoted election-related commentaries in October. Aviva published the results of a poll gauging optimism among political party members about the future of the U.S. economy. Putnam focused on how the election outcome could influence the future tax environment.

Football a Popular Promotion
As they have in the past, several bank and credit card companies featured tickets to football games as a prize in October promotions. Wells Fargo also offered Super Bowl tickets to Visa debit card users, and this offer is good through December 27, 2012. The firm offered the same promotion in 2011. Every Citibank client who makes a purchase with their Visa debit card until November 30 is entered to win tickets to the Super Bowl. SunTrust offered four tickets to a college football rivalry game to site users who entered personal information. On the credit card side, Discover announced an exclusive opportunity for card holders to purchase special tickets for the Orange Bowl and BCS National Championship Game.

Discover BCS Promotion

Citibank Visa Debit Promotion

SunTrust College Rivalry Game Promotion

Flyouts are the Revamp Du Jour
Flyout menus were a popular addition among revamped sites in October. Chase, New York Life and Valic all added flyout menus to their public site navigation. Nationwide revamped its Investing section with a new overview page, new product overview pages and redesigned individual product pages. TD Ameritrade revamped its public site with a focus on responsive design. The revamped site uses jump navigation and functions well on both desktops and tablets. Valic’s  public site also included a static client account sign-in menu, a new static footer and the ability to “Like” or share each page on a variety of social media platforms in the new design.