Wealthsimple comes up Short in new awareness play

Who: Wealthsimple, with Austin agency Preacher and Martin Short for creative and strategy; Biscuit for production; Mackcut, Schmigital, and Rare Medium for post-production; and Jungle for media.

What: “Martin Short’s Short Day at Work,” a new brand awareness campaign featuring the beloved Canadian actor. After an 18-month hiatus since last year’s “Early Adopters” campaign, the commercial is the first work from Wealthsimple to be produced with an outside agency, and the first headed by its new CMO, Rubina Singh.

When & Where: The campaign is anchored by a one-minute commercial that debuted during Sunday’s Grey Cup telecast, from Short’s hometown of Hamilton. The spot, as well as 15 and 30-second cutdowns, will run on broadcast TV, including Hockey Night in Canada and Saturday Night Live, as well as connected TV and paid social.

Why: The campaign plays into consumer fears about inflation, and acknowledges that their money isn’t going as far as it used to. “Canadians are working harder than ever and yet, in today’s tough economic climate, earning a consistent, healthy paycheque isn’t enough for many people to feel financially secure,” said Singh.

“The campaign serves as a reminder for Canadians to check in on their finances and make sure their money is doing the work needed to support their goals.”

Why now for an external agency?: “For this project, we saw an opportunity to scale our reach through an external agency because we believe the message spans generations—everyone is feeling the pinch,” said Singh, of the decision to work with Texas-based Preacher. “The final product, which we’re all very proud of, was a cross-functional collaboration.”

How (the strategy): The brand has a history of featuring well-known personalities to deliver its messaging, from Canadian drag queen Tynomi Banks, to American actor Nicholas Braun (known for his role as Greg Hirsch in the HBO series Succession), and WNBA star Skylar Diggins-Smith.

Seeking another familiar face to represent the brand, Singh said the team wanted someone who would be widely recognized by Canadians, while offering some levity to those who may be feeling overwhelmed by their finances. “Martin Short—beloved Canadian actor—was the clear choice,” she said.

How (the creative): The commercial is pretty meta, starring Martin Short in the making of a fictional Wealthsimple ad, in which he is meant to read just one line: “Your money should work harder than you do.”

Taking on the exaggerated persona of an entitled actor who can’t be bothered to do more than one take, let alone research the brand he’s making a commercial for, Short says “monkey” instead of “money,” before hurrying off the set to a waiting helicopter—which transports him a few feet to his parked car.

His attitude of hardly working humorously supports the brand’s messaging that your money should be doing all the work—as the super reads at the end of the (real) ad: “Your money should be working harder than this.”

Wealthsimple’s marketing team collaborated closely with Preacher and Short’s team to determine the concept and script, some of which was established through on-set improvisation. The actor was highly involved in the spot’s creation, said Singh. “He’s as hilarious in person as he is on our screens. Seeing him improvise on set was another reminder of how uniquely talented he is.”

Short, of course, is no stranger to the world of TV commercials, having appeared in ads since the earliest days of his career for brands as varied as Foodland Ontario’s “Get Cracking” and Black’s (multiple spots, including this and this) and more recently for Capital One and SingleCare.

Singh on her first 11-months as Wealthsimple CMO: “It’s such a privilege as a CMO to join a company that has a groundbreaking business trajectory, and is also a beloved brand that lives and breathes their mission to help everyone achieve financial freedom.”

Emma Johnston-Wheeler