RBC hopes to score with Auston Matthews in new Vantage campaign

Who: RBC, with Battery for creative; Initiative for media; and Wasserman for “ambassador partnership”

What: “Make it Count,” a new campaign for RBC’s Vantage brand featuring NHL star (and actor?) Auston Matthews. Make it count refers to the different ways RBC customers earn benefits and save money through everyday banking with RBC.

When & Where: The campaign went live March 1, running on TV, as online video and social ads, as well as out-of-home. There’s an anchor :30 for TV as well as multiple cutdowns and shorter variations.

Why: RBC launched Vantage in 2021 as an umbrella brand for a suite of benefits and rewards programs. “With Canadians currently facing inflation and high interest rates, switching banks isn’t top of mind,” said Sonia Whiteson, vice-president, marketing, banking, digital, youth and new client growth for RBC. “To break through, we need to prove to Canadians why it’s worth switching now and lean into the differentiated value we offer RBC clients.”

To do that, RBC worked with Battery for a campaign that leverages Matthews’ obvious star power, and his previously less obvious comedic acting chops. “In a highly competitive environment, the creative spot takes a humorous approach and harnesses Auston’s celebrity status to help our brand, differentiated value proposition, and personal banking cash incentive stand out in a cluttered market,” said Whiteson.

How: The campaign features Matthews (playing what we assume to be an alternate version of himself) and a partner, Gene Raymond, surprising customers with suggestions to “Make it count” by banking with RBC Vantage. Gene is the sophisticated, no-nonsense pitchman extolling the virtues of RBC Vantage, while Matthews comes across as an earnest try-hard who sometimes gets things wrong in small but funny ways.

”What we love about the ‘Make It Count’ campaign is that it showcases a different side of Auston than we usually see of the NHL player,” said Shannon Cole, vice-president, brand marketing, RBC. “We think viewers will be pleasantly surprised with his dry wit and playful banter with sidekick Gene Raymond.”

Is he that good? He’s no Peyton Manning, or Eli Manning for that matter. Nor is he PK Subban sticking someone else’s tooth in his mouth. And it’s fair to say the agency didn’t overtax him, but if there’s a fine line between dead and deadpan, Matthews does a great job of the latter. And as far as hockey stars acting, it’s a lot better than this. And in terms of how to use hockey players in an ad, it’s a whole lot better than this.

Is there more coming? RBC wouldn’t say definitely. “We are thrilled with the early response to the creative and will continue to evaluate its reception throughout the campaign period,” said Cole.

But RBC originally signed Matthews as an ambassador for its Team RBC, with plans to work with him year-round on marketing initiatives and to connect with customers. “Ambassadors help us to drive brand awareness and build stronger connections with employees, clients and communities,” said Cole. “We look forward to collaborating with Auston more throughout the year on our marketing initiatives including the RBC Canadian Open, RBCxMusic and the Toronto International Film Festival.”

And we quote: “The concept felt fresh and different and leans more into a humorous creative territory than we had explored in our line of business, leveraging Auston in a way that felt very natural and authentic to him,” said Whiteson. “We felt it would break through the marketing landscape and reinforce the differentiated value that you get when you bank with RBC.”


David Brown