How TD and Ogilvy hope to win Super Bowl

Who: TD Bank, with Ogilvy for strategy and creative; OPC for production (directed by Jeff Low); post-production by Shift Post, Time Based Arts, The Vanity, and TA2 Sound and Music; media by Unison.

What: A new two-spot ad campaign showing the ways TD provides trusted advice to those who feel uncomfortable talking about money. It’s not the first work from Ogilvy since winning the account in late 2021, but it’s the first work since Francesco Grandi took the creative reins as CCO for Ogilvy Canada last summer.

When & Where: The campaign debuts during the Super Bowl. The two new ads are both :60s, and will run five times in total in the English broadcast, and four times in French. Beyond the Super Bowl, the new campaign will run on broadcast, as OLV, cinema, OOH, digital and social into the spring.

Why (part I): Well, there’s the obvious reason that the Super Bowl delivers a huge audience that (generally) cares about the advertising, and good advertising in the game pays off. TD was in last year’s game, and saw good results, said global CMO Betsey Chung. “We actually saw a big lift,” she said. “This year we went even bigger.”

But it’s not just about the numbers, it’s about the ambition of the ads themselves. TD wanted break-through advertising that differentiates it from other banks making similar claims about offering good advice to people stressed out about money.

Why (part II): A couple of key themes guided them: first, it was about the craft and the quality. “We feel like we are Canada’s most valuable brand,” said Chung, pointing to TD’s appearance on the most recent Brand Finance rankings (#93 in the world). “And so how does the most valuable brand behave? We behave in a way that is high-quality with every single thing that we launch,” she said.

But it’s also about standing out in category where the big brands make similar claims and promises. “The bank category is quite commoditized,” said Kelly Deuster, managing director strategy at Ogilvy. “And that means how the brand communicates and how it shows up becomes even more important as a way to set it apart.”

“We noticed the bank brand work in Canada at the moment is really functional right now,” added Grandi. ”The Ogilvy team wanted to do things differently and TD was on board.”

TD has been moving in this direction since hiring Ogilvy, but this is the fullest expression of that shift to date, said Chung. “I’d like to think [we’ve] changed. We’re just more modern.”

How: Two different ads, but with a very similar tone and sense of humour. The goal was not to be funny just for the sake of being funny, said Grandi. “We’re trying to be clever with the truth,” he said. “It’s more like journalism than comedy—you try to find the fun in the truth.”

“We’re trying to use humour in a way that is smart and not over the top,” added Chung. “It’s a smart humour. It’s not slapstick.”

How (“Taboo Talk”): “Taboo Talk,” focuses on the TD brand pillar of trusted advice. It shows the anxiety many people feel about money to deliver the message that TD advisors can help get over their anxiety to realize their financial goals. The ad shows three different scenarios where people would rather talk about anything other than money. “I have a rash on my body. Do you want to see it,” says one woman.

The starting point was a stat about just how uncomfortable people get talking about money: “The truth that guided the strategy and the creative was that 64% of Canadians avoid talking about their finances with others ,” said Deuster. “They would rather talk about relationships, politics and religion over money. We needed to communicate that TD has the experts and valued advice to make talking about money easier.”

That stat gave the Ogilvy creative team inspiration for the spot: “We found that to be absurd… how is money more taboo than sex,” said Grandi.

How (“Don’t Listen to the Comments”): The other spot, “Don’t Listen to the Comments,” is for TD’s Easy Trade app. The underlying message is still about trusting TD, but the focus is on how TD provides sound financial education and information through the Easy Trade app. The spot features two friends (sitting in the bank’s trademark big green chairs) talking about where they get their investment information from: one uses the TD Easy Trade app, the other uses online comment sections.

The goal was still to be funny, but there was also an additional creative challenge of making it “more visually iconic,” said Grandi. “We’re bringing the internet comment section to life, which is kind of amazing because it’s one of the weirdest places on earth…. It was really important to get that chaos and that motley crew, hodgepodge of people.”

The importance of empathy: “All the banks are out there talking about ‘trusted advice,’ and I’ve seen all their spots,” said Chung. “I think this is quite different.” TD believes it has a deeper and better understanding of what people need today.

That shows up in the communications and in this campaign in particular, said Chung. It’s very human, and personable and, most of all, empathetic, a core brand value of TD, she said. Those qualities remain at the core of the campaign, but with the new, modern, fresh and funny approach from Ogilvy.

“I think empathy is a big part of it, but it is also entertaining people, connecting in a way, dramatizing the truth, being more insightful with our creative work—these are all things I really wanted to push into,” said Grandi.  “This is our first piece of high-profile work together, and I’m excited because I feel like we’re just getting started.”

David Brown