Simplii Financial customers… ‘Start Your Engines’

Who: Simplii Financial, with Broken Heart Love Affair for strategy and creative (Barrett and Welsh for multicultural marketing); Colossale for production (directed by Jodeb); Saints Editorial, The Vanity, Berkeley for post-production; Pomp & Circumstance for PR; MediaCom for media.

What: A new brand platform for the CIBC unit called “Bank on the Now.” It’s part of a multi-year initiative that is building on its ambition to be a direct banking leader, and is being accompanied by a visual update and brand campaign called “Start Your Engines.”

When & Where: The rebrand was introduced on Thursday (June 15), with the ad campaign comprised of a 60-second anchor spot (and cutdowns) running across digital and social, complemented by programmatic and display ads, and out-of-home.

Why: Among the many new customer habits coming out of the pandemic was accelerated digital adoption of goods and services, including banking, said CIBC’s senior vice-president, brand and marketing, Tammy Sadinsky. Simplii is an “important strategic priority” for CIBC, she said, offering Canadians the ability to do it themselves from a banking and money management perspective.

While “Bank on the Now,” is a new platform, it’s an articulation of the way Simplii has operated since its inception, she said. “It’s a bank for DIYers who are digitally savvy, want to be in control of their finances, and want a very simple way at this,” she said. “At the end of the day they want to maximize their now, because a better now is what’s going to enable a better future.”

Simplii has amassed about two million customers since launching in 2017, but Sadinsky said it has “lesser brand awareness than we want,” and the new campaign is intended to be a brand badge for both existing clients and new customers who share their point of view.

How (the brand): The new visual identity uses a very “unbank-like” (our words) colour scheme of magenta, green, and black that Sadinsky said is intended to be “thumb-stopping.” “Marketing in a digital world, we need to set ourselves apart so people can take notice of our brand and see for themselves the benefits we offer,” she said.

While the colour palette is meant to be different from competitive FI brands, Sadinsky said they were “very thoughtful” about its implementation. “We were consumer data-informed the whole way, and we moved forward because we knew that current clients as well as prospective clients were really liking it and motivated by it,” she said.

“A great visual identity is a direct translation of a brand’s point of view,” she added. “Behind ‘Bank on the Now’ is an urgency and a call to action, and that is very much core to our existing clients’ philosophy. It’s really important to find a way creatively and in design to translate that, and thus the very bold visual palette.”

How (the advertising): The black and white ads depict scenarios in which people (and one greyhound) are poised to unleash the energy that builds slowly throughout the spot. Simplii describes them as depicting the “near-suspended animation that precedes action,” which is intended to indicate that people exist, change and create in the now.

One of the scenarios shows a man straining to pull back a huge slingshot, although the actual slingshot is only suggested. The spot features close-ups of the man grimacing and as he attempts to pull the slingshot back. Another scene shows a young woman standing outside as smoke begins to pour out of her feet and we hear the sound of squealing tires, while a greyhound stuck inside a slowly ascending elevator is clearly keen to do what greyhounds do best.

But before the energy that has built up can be released, each scenario concludes with an abrupt cut to the new brightly coloured Simpii Financial logo, and an all-caps message delivering the campaign tagline, “START YOUR ENGINES.”

Sadinsky said that the goal is to convey the excitement and emotion of the “ignition moment” when someone is about to take action. “That’s what our customers are doing, and that’s what many consumers want to do,” she said.

“We wanted to bring to life that moment of ignition when you make a change,” said BHLA creative director Spencer Ryan, who developed the campaign with his creative partner Jordan Hamer. “They are all kind of that moment of ignition. The visuals immerse viewers in the headspace that you are in during those types of moments. It’s an approached designed to make people feel instead of rationalize their banking experience.”

The visual and stylistic aesthetic of the campaign will serve as the template for future marketing across all of Simplii’s various product lines, said Sadinsky. “This will be who we are and how we show up,” she said. “In a fragmented world, where consumers are consuming media and content in different places, having some consistency in our visual identity and tone is very important.”

And we quote: “Our new look brings energy, optimism, and a sense of urgency. Clients can expect to see this change come to life not just through our brand but also in our approach to innovation.” — Christian Exshaw, managing director, head, CIBC Global Markets and Direct Financial Services


Chris Powell