Joel McHale is so money for Mackenzie

Who: Mackenzie Investments, with Mosaic for strategy and creative, Radke Film Group for production (Jono Holmes directing); Outsider Editorial, Alter Ego, Vapor Music for post and North Strategic for PR. Media by OMD Montreal.

What: The brand’s first consumer-facing campaign, “Listen to Your Money.” It stars actor/comedian Joel McHale, best known for his role as Jeff Winger in the NBC sitcom Community (the Quebec ads feature actor Antoine Portelance, using the same scripts). It springboards off the company’s stated ambition to create what it calls a “more invested world.”

When & Where: The national campaign is in market now, running across TV (with a focus on marquee shows like The Masked Singer and live sports programming), along with online and social. The focus is on mass affluent/high net worth Canadians, with a specific goal of reaching people who are already investing.

Why: Mackenzie has traditionally focused on B2B marketing, with a primary focus on the financial advisors who sell its products. This campaign represents what it describes as a “major evolution” in its quest to engage directly with Canadian investors.

The creative is fuelled by the insight that at one point during the pandemic, Canadians had collectively accumulated $170 billion, since they haven’t been spending on luxuries like travel, dining out, etc. In many cases, they’ve been parking that money in low-yield savings accounts rather than in investments.

“It’s people who have investable assets already,” said Mackenzie’s senior vice-president of marketing, Leisha Roche, of the target audience. “They know they should be investing, but they’ve taken [their savings] and haven’t moved them over. It’s reawakening them to say ‘Put more money into your investments.'”

How: Financial services is a highly commoditized category, which means that developing a strong brand identity is key to standing out, said Roche. With the exception of the fintechs, advertising in the category tends to feel similar, she added.

The advertising features McHale as the personification of money (we know ’cause he’s wearing a shirt that says “money”), calling out an investor for not doing more to grow him/it. The 30-second anchor spot opens on an investor finishing a call with an advisor, saying he plans to leave his money in savings for the time being.

“Are you leaving me in savings?” asks a bemused McHale/money. “That’s like leaving your star player on the sideline. Like making a gourmet smoothie and never drinking it. Like having a treadmill and not even running.” McHale informs the investor he should be investing with McKenzie.

The spot mentions three key areas of focus for the campaign: Retirement, ETFs (exchange traded funds) and sustainable investing. There are also 15-second spots for each individual promotable (see all the spots below).

Why McHale: McHale is a veteran of TV commercials, having appeared in pre-Community ads for brands as varied as Ameritrade, Burger King, and IHOP, and, later on, for Nintendo (playing someone with an acute understanding of how modern marketing and advertising is created) and Planters.

McHale brought a clever sense of humour that was a fit with a campaign intended to make investors feel like Mackenzie is offering them practical advice, rather than telling them what to do with their money, said Roche. “We have to remember we’re going after investors, and while you can still bring some fun and levity to it, money is still something where you have to be careful and smart.”

Mackenzie considered Canadian actors for the English language spots, but wanted someone who was recognizable without being over-exposed north of the border. McHale even added some unscripted lines, such as “would you like a tiny headband too?” at the end of the 15-second spot dedicated to sustainable investing. “He kind of went with it and we were like ‘We love it,'” said Roche. “The payoff was dealing with a nice guy who genuinely cares.”

And we quote: “Any good marketer knows that the way you stand out is to differentiate your brand, so that’s what we’re trying to do. We thought long and hard about this, and if Mackenzie had come out and delivered the message as the Mackenzie brand per se, it could have fallen flat. The last thing we wanted to do was come out and be preachy.” — Leisha Roche, senior vice-president of marketing, Mackenzie Investments

Chris Powell