RBC Bank cast one of its own executives in a YouTube series designed to show harried college students that the bank feels their pain. The three-part series, created by Entrinsic, went live on Wednesday, with a paid social media push launching on Friday.
While college students are a priority audience for banks, who hope they'll remain customers into their peak earning years, there's not much difference among their offerings, according to Carolyn Contois, executive director of client services at Entrinsic, a strategic social media services agency. "We realized we couldn't change the product so it was essential to connect with students on an emotional level."
The concept was sending an executive back to school, says Anthony Wolch, Entrinsic's executive creative director. They cast Larry Jacobs, marketing head of home equity and lending, Canadian banking at RBC, who races to a book sale, struggles to complete a financial aid application, and buys groceries with a $10 budget. "We condensed three issues that students face from finances across the year into one day," Wolch explains.
Entrinsic's media strategy was designed to appeal to the way people consume media, Contois says. While most banks use traditional media, the agency knew it was important to connect with students online and via mobile. They created webisodes as an alternative to posting TV spots online because, she says, "Young people believe they shouldn't have to watch your messaging on two screens. So we always create different campaigns for broadcast."
To drive actual conversions, the campaign includes a contest in which people who sign up for any kind of RBC service are entered to win $1,000 a day. The contest is promoted with YouTube Annotations on the webisodes.
The contest and web content are highlighted on the bank's Facebook and Twitter accounts, as well as the page on its website devoted to student products. And a trailer for the web series is running as pre-roll on other YouTube content.
The campaign has just launched, so no metrics are available; and Entrinsic said it could not disclose the client's target metrics for the campaign. But the bank has already received emails and attention for the shorts. Says Wolch, "It's one of the bravest departures I've seen for a financial institution to connect with a demographic, using a senior employee to engage in a light-hearted execution to make a point."
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Susan Kuchinskas has covered interactive advertising since its invention. The former staff writer for Adweek, Business 2.0, and M-Business covers technology, business and culture from Berkeley, CA.
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