Wealthsimple turns to musical theatre for national campaign

Who: Wealthsimple, with Buck for animation and We Are Walker for music.

What: “Weathsimple Trade|Zero,” a new national campaign promoting the company’s $0-commission stock trading platform, Wealthsimple Trade. It’s the company’s first major marketing push for the product, one of four within its portfolio alongside Wealthsimple Invest, Wealthsimple Cash and last year’s acquisition, SimpleTax.

When & Where: The campaign broke May 21 and is running across TV (with an emphasis on financial channels like BNN Bloomberg) as well as major online platforms including YouTube and Instagram. There’s also a heavy emphasis on audio-oriented channels (see why below).

Why: In short, it’s about creating awareness and driving trial of Wealthsimple Trade, which Wealthsimple’s executive creative director Mike Giepert says has been “blowing up—in a good way,” during the current crisis.

Wealthsimple originally envisioned the Trade product growing organically, providing little in the way of advertising support. There have been exceptions, such as last year’s recreation of  “The Shot,” but even then there wasn’t heavy messaging around its zero-dollar commission offer.

Since the beginning of March, however, the number of Wealthsimple Trade clients has doubled, and trade volume is up about 150%. “We really thought that was where we should be putting our energy,” says Giepert.

How: Created remotely because of the work-from-home imperative, the 30-second spot is simple and uncluttered, featuring animated renderings of the various stock classes—it features 29 in total—that can be traded on Wealthsimple Trade with zero commission. They range from cannabis, to robotics to driverless cars. It’s all set to a jaunty song that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Gilbert and Sullivan musical, which is appropriate since…

About that song: …it’s performed by Alistair Donkin, stage director of the Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Houston and a performer whose roles include several Gilbert and Sullivan musicals, including HMS Pinafore and The Pirates of Penzance.

Donkin was chosen from nearly 30 performers who auditioned for the role, largely on the basis of his many performances of The Pirates of Penzance song “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General,” which provides the music for the new spot.

Giepert says he took inspiration for the song’s tone from several sources, including The Animaniacs song “Nations of the World,” as well as “The Element Song” and Sideshow Bob’s performance of “HMS Pinafore” in the “Cape Feare” episode of The Simpsons.

Giepert says the tone is a deliberate attempt to stand out from the “these uncertain times” approach that has characterized so much current marketing. “We know these times are weird and there’s a lot of sadness, but I think an audience gets a bit exhausted by that messaging. We wanted to make something that was fun—we thought it would stand out in a world where there’s a lot of ‘sad-vertising.'”

On the channel selection: While financial news verticals such as BNN Bloomberg were a logical destination, Wealthsimple was also committed to making sure that the music that provides so much of the spot’s resonance would be heard.

Because so much online content is performed with the sound off,  however, Wealthsimple deliberately sought out ad channels where  people would be sure to hear the song. That led them to the live-streaming platform Twitch (where users tend to have the audio on) and TikTok. The spot will also appear on Spotify.

And we quote: “It’s so much nicer to be in a room with a vocalist and give him direction, or talk to a musician in-person or sit down beside an animator, and I hope we can still do that in the future. But I think everyone did a really good job considering.” — Mike Giepert, executive creative director, Wealthsimple


Chris Powell