Evergreen Investments: Different mediums require different messages
Evergreen Investments. Mutual fund managers are beginning to get their feet wet again in the sea of advertising. One such company…
FROM FUND MARKETING ALERT
Critics’ Corner is a periodic feature in which marketing and advertising experts critique the effectiveness of advertising or marketing pieces for mutual fund products or services. Mutual fund managers are beginning to get their feet wet again in the sea of advertising. One such company, Evergreen Investments, launched a new campaign last spring consisting of two commercials and two print ads.
The TV ads, which air on most national cable networks, notably CNN, MSNBC, Fox Network, ESPN, Bloomberg and CNBC, are entitled “Tablecloth” and “Trash can,” and use humor to get the message across. In “Trash can,” an Evergreen employee steps out of the elevator, and wipes his mouth with a napkin, which he then tosses in a trashcan like a basketball.
However, he misses, and is forced to dive dramatically on the ground to save the napkin. The tagline, which is at the end of both commercials, sums the message up: “When you manage the kind of money we do, you tend to be a little more demanding. Evergreen. Investments that stand the test of time. ”
A similar message is seen in “Tablecloth.” Several Evergreen employees are eating at an upscale restaurant discussing “the new guy,” when a drop of olive oil mars the perfectly white tablecloth. One employee stands up and promptly rips the tablecloth out from under his co-workers, folds it, and hands it to the waiter, without disrupting the table settings. “We really wanted to add a slight bend towards humor to get our message across, and we have found in brand studies that is what has gotten across.
The TV humor surfaced very well,” said Ruth Papazian, former chief marketing officer for Evergreen, who joined Morgan Stanley Investment Managment as head of global marketing last week. Evergreen worked in conjunction with its regular ad agency, the Winston-Salem office of Mullen Advertising. The print ads, which are reminiscent of ads that the company ran in 1997, are styled with a vintage look, like old documents on parchment. The reasoning behind this is two-fold: customers might recognize the style of the heavily printed 1997 ad and the vintage look points to Evergreen’s longevity in the business.
The Evergreen Investments Message
The message of the print ads upholds Evergreen’s “demanding” theme for the campaign. One reads, “The market fluctuates. OUR STANDARDS, HOWEVER, DON’T,” while the other reads, “While the market will never be controlled, WE BELIEVE IT CAN BE MANAGED.” “We wanted to keep the print message very simple, and return to basics. Tom Dougherty, a senior strategist at Stealing Share, begs the same question. “In marketing terms, you can only say you’re more demanding if someone else in the market says they are less demanding, and nobody does that. When you get fundamentally down to the point, I think the message is wrong.
Everyone is demanding – they’re saying they’re one of the group.” Dougherty does not see a weakness in the lack of consistent style between TV and print. “They are simply a different medium,” said Dougherty. “There is enough consistency of message and meaning in the ads.” While he thinks the ads are very well produced with an artistic and creative bend, he also noted the inability of Evergreen to recognize their customers in the ads. “If you were looking to steal market share, the crux of the campaign should be a lot more about the customers,” said Dougherty. “Customers need to see themselves reflected in a brand.” “Everyone tries to speak from the consumer perspective,” Papazian responded. “We felt that we needed to tell people what we were, so they can make an educated decision,” what that means for me as a consumer? You don’t want to be too vague or too coy; you might run the risk of losing a customer who is casually watching TV or reading the ad. As a consumer, I might want to know more about what my direct benefits will be.”
Webber praises the use of humor in the campaign. “Sometimes it can be a bit of a risk to use humor when you’re dealing with subjects that aren’t inherently funny, like someone’s financial future. People do find humor engaging, though, and I think that they tackled it pretty well. I t wasn’t too over the top; it was fairly subtle and witty.”