How to make a stock trade ad that connects with Redditors

Just as the so-called “Reddit Rebellion” targeting Wall Street’s power brokers captured the attention of people who mostly ignore the stock market, a new ad from Toronto agency Funday should resonate with those who think a hedge fund is for shrubbery upkeep.

In just 30-seconds, the dialogue-free “Stonks” spot for blockchain trading platform Bittrex Global succinctly conveys the idea that the traditional stock market is stacked against casual investors. That criticism has been particularly vociferous in the wake of activity inspired by the Reddit group WallStreetBets that led to a massive spike in share price for companies including GameStop and entertainment company AMC last week.

Specifically created to resemble the memes popular among Redditors, the online ad was shot in Armenia—where Funday maintains an office catering largely to Bittrex Global because it is almost equidistant to North America and Asia, affording it the ability to provide near round-the-clock service in a fast-moving and nearly always-on sector like cryptocurrency.

The spot features a man (labelled “retail investor,” shorthand for non-professional) and an older woman (labelled “hedge funds”) sitting in a living room with a plate of cookies between them. The cookies are labelled as “stonks,” an intentional misspelling of the word “stocks”—reportedly developed by a Facebook group called Special meme fresh in 2017—that has entered the mainstream vernacular in the past week.

As the spot continues, the “hedge funds” woman casually reaches for a cookie labelled GameStop and eats it. When “retail investor” man reaches for a cookie, however, she slaps his hand away. It’s followed by a super reading “Don’t let them tell you what to trade,” before introducing the Bittrex Global name and the tagline “the more the wealthier.”

Following the decision by app-based trade platforms like Robinhood to delist stocks when irregular market activity caused by WallStreetBets caused share prices for companies including GameStop and AMC to surge, Bittrex quickly began listing tokenized securities on its platform last week. In a release, Bittrex Global CEO Tom Albright stated that the company intended to list every stock delisted from platforms like Robinhood, saying that situation “feeds into the narrative that the financial system is rigged against the little guy.”

The “Stonks” spot was specifically created in such a way to play well on Reddit said Jared Folkmann, who joined Funday as a Calgary-based partner last fall after more than a decade with Critical Mass. “If you hang out on WallStreetBets for half an hour, you’ll understand why we did what we did,” he said. “The trick is to get people to watch it and then surprise them.”

While Redditors are known for a vehemently anti-advertising stance—”they hate ads with a seething passion and will down-vote [them] into oblivion,” said Folkmann—Funday’s effort was met with praise, with messages like “As a marketer, I appreciate this ad,” and “…ur marketing team deserves a raise.”

“If ever there’s a rule to not read the comments, it’s on your own ads when you put them up on Reddit. It’s brutal,” said Folkmann, who described the ad as a “moment meets audience meets time” execution. “In this particular case we have awesome comments. I’m so excited by the fact that it hit.”

Bittrex Global has no internal marketing team, said Folkmann, which provided Funday with some additional leeway in developing the spot—which went from conception to Reddit in just three days with ads targeted across Reddit via keywords such as “investing” and “Elon Musk.”

“We have a lot of trust, and they know that we’re all pulling on the same rope,” he said. “It was fast, it worked and it didn’t piss off Redditors.”

Chris Powell