—All the crypto and DIY investing advertising has Craig Redmond thinking about the dotcom boom and the important aphorism: “Nothing kills a bad product quicker than good advertising”—
I think fintech might be the new version of the dotcom bubbly boom that inevitably burst back in the early 2000s.
For those of you who don’t remember that once-upon-a-time time—either because you hadn’t yet emerged from your mother’s womb, or were perhaps otherwise pharmaceutically engaged—the dotcom bubble referred to the global market’s lust for, and then liability, in the newly monetizable internet world.
It was a time that saw startup website companies emerge in Silicon Valley faster and more abundantly than the pimples erupting on the faces of their post-pubescent founders.
And bucketing fuel onto that fire were ad agency execs, limping out of a late-80s recession and seeing that fire as their chance to resurrect their agencies like some kind of phoenix miracle.
What followed was an inferno of wonderfully wacky work for a category that didn’t previously exist, and whose marketing directors wanted to deviate as far as possible from the conventional advertising that had suffocated their entrepreneurial spirits up to that pivotal point in their careers.
So, we saw gerbils fired out of canons, and wild wolves unleashed on a helpless marching band for Outpost.com. And we were introduced to a monkey and his hillbilly friends dancing along to La Cucaracha for E-trade as a hilarious demonstration of money well wasted.
But nothing kills a bad product quicker than good advertising. And so, the dotcom demise and subsequent market crash that followed sealed the fate of countless Silicon startups that had little value other than the greed of their investors and the whimsy of their ad agencies.
Of course, it wasn’t the end of web-based companies. Quite the opposite. A little thing called Amazon prevailed. But the great ad bonanza did ferret out the pretenders.
I think that’s what is happening today with the furious fintech marketing movement currently taking hold. The boom of Bitcoin advertising alone seems nothing short of all-consuming, and one wonders just how many of the brands will survive their own infamy.
Set aside the rollercoaster volatility of the cryptocurrency world itself, surely all these financial start-ups are playing with that dotcom fire of old.
Probably the most noteworthy equivalent is the Super Bowl bandit known as Coinbase, which ponged its QR Code across the screen for a $14 million minute. It was definitely the most polarizing commercial in the big game, which for me is always the KPI of any kind of breakthrough advertising.
The disciples of data point to 20 million hits in one minute. The storytellers in my creative circles contrarily question the long-term brand relationship such a tactical one-hit wonder might forge. Either way, it was one of the most talked about ads I can remember in a very long time.
The other fintech phenomenon getting a serious advertising push is the emergence of personal, online stock trading and investing. We’ve seen the successful adoption of Wealthsimple here in Canada. And the equally disconcerting rise and fall of speculative online trading brand Robinhood in the U.S.
And now along comes Stake, another entrant in this burgeoning financial category, which had its own coming out these past few weeks.
I love the everyman, anti-hero positioning. I love the counter-category use of old school, street cred animation and the spoken word, iconoclastic disobedience of it. I love the fact they chose the Winter Olympics as their media canvass rather than the Super Bowl. I love it all. What’s not to love?
But I do wonder if Stake, or Coinbase, or Dapper Labs, or the countless other fintech brands suddenly appearing and being flogged by marketing mercenaries and their voracious ad agencies, will ultimately survive. Or will they go the way of extinction or amalgamative anonymity, like so many of the dotcom phenoms that preceded them at the turn of the century?
I guess that’s what’s at stake.
Craig Redmond is a Creative Leader with Palmer Stamnes and Co, an independent family of marketing communication companies.