Can all-Canadian playoff match-ups pay off for Scotiabank? ‘Bank on it’

Rethink’s first work for Scotiabank was always going to have a lot of eyes on it, but the bank’s senior vice-president and chief marketing officer Laura Curtis Ferrera says she’s delighted by just how many.

The playoff-themed “Bank on it” spot is one of three pieces of creative Scotiabank is running during the first round of the NHL post-season. It’s being accompanied by a spot for Scotia Advice+ and another for mortgages, both developed by former agency partner, Bensimon Byrne.

Bolstered by a (presumably) one-time only playoff format that saw four Canadian teams in the Scotia North Division face off in the first round—which also guarantees a Canadian team will reach the Stanley Cup semi-finals for the first time since 2007—the NHL playoffs have so far been a ratings bonanza for “Canada’s hockey bank.”

According to Curtis Ferrera, Scotiabank has reached 46% of the Canadian population (an estimated 17.2 million people) during the first two weeks of the playoffs, thanks in part to a media buy (managed by PHD) that includes first period exclusivity on Rogers Sports & Media telecasts.

“In an era when TV is on the decline, to have must-see TV like that is remarkable,” said Curtis Ferrera. “We’re kind of owning the conversation right now and we’ve got the audience numbers. There were times last year when we had to be patient because there wasn’t the audience reach, but certainly this year has been unparalleled in terms of excitement.”

According to Scotiabank data, consideration of Scotiabank among those who associate the company with hockey has risen by 177%, and its brand equity score has risen by 171%. Internal data also shows that 59% of Canadians can recall at least one of Scotiabank’s hockey sponsorships.

Curtis Ferrera described “Bank on it” as the “first interim work of any significance” since Rethink was announced as Scotiabank’s new creative agency in December. The spot uses video assets showing the four—and soon to be two—Canadian playoff teams, accompanied by a series of subtitles running atop the familiar Scotiabank red. “This year, will a Canadian team go deep?” it asks. “You can bank on it.”

The spot in its current incarnation will only run through the end of the second round, and will be updated to reflect the teams that emerge. The script might also be tweaked, said Curtis Ferrera. “There’s a lot you can play off with ‘Bank on it,'” she said.

The spot was assembled in just 10 days, as they had to wait to see which of the seven Canadian teams in the Scotia North Division would qualify for the playoffs. “It was an interesting project and a really satisfying one, because as an official NHL sponsor, the [league] gave us unparalleled access to footage,” said Curtis Ferrera. “They were just so generous in terms of working in a really tight time frame.”

The NHL’s division realignment was created as a stop-gap measure to facilitate a season during the pandemic, but as a Canadian marketer that’s made significant investment in hockey sponsorship, Scotiabank would no doubt love to see the format continue.

“There’s a lot of people who want to see more Canadian match-ups like this, but I stick to my marketing lane,” said Curtis Ferrera. “That’s a question for [the NHL’s executive VP of marketing] Brian Jennings. The collective consciousness of Canadians as these teams are matching up, you just don’t get that kind of enthusiasm when it’s not Canada’s teams.” (Jennings did not respond to questions about divisional alignment for next year, or whether naming rights for the divisions would continue.)

The playoff spot comes as Rethink and Scotiabank approach the end of an approximately 90-day onboarding period.

“Rethink really committed to us, and we committed back, that we were going to take the time necessary to truly understand each other’s DNA, and we weren’t going to rush that period,” she said. “It was a pretty intense and organized period of really getting to understand who Scotiabank is, really getting to understand how we want to work as a collaborative unit, and we did it systematically.

“Now we’re at the end of that period and they’re reflecting back to us what they’re seeing and hearing and how they might recommend we go forward. It’s been very satisfying.”

She said the two organizations are involved in some “pretty significant” campaign planning for new brand work that will debut sometime this fall.

While the specifics have yet to be determined, Curtis Ferrera said that moving the marketing conversation from “bank and banking” to “life and living” would be a critical next stage. “Going beyond a functional relationship is where we need to go,” she said.

Does Curtis Ferrera have a bedrock principle when it comes to her approach to marketing? “I have a shared belief with my marketing team that we have an obligation to the twin goals of [being a] force for growth and a force for good, and we are already well on our way to that agenda.”

Chris Powell