How Ally bank created lasting love in a loveless category

"A disruptive brand can't have vanilla marketing."

Ally Financial launched 10 years ago in the midst of the financial crisis, a time when people were definitely not begging for another bank, yet the brand was able to survive and thrive. So, how did Ally do it?

Marketing Chief Andrea Brimmer attributes Ally’s success and growth to its consistent, punchy, emotional creative that resonated with consumers in a lasting way.

"A disruptive brand can’t have vanilla marketing, and we started with a bang," she said at ANA Masters of Marketing on Thursday, referring to Ally’s well-known "Would you like a pony?" spot, which got consumers thinking about what they weren’t getting from their current banks.

While the creative was strong, the brand needed to evolve as the company continued to grow and as technology moved at lightening speed.

"We knew big bangs were moving toward us with great IT, deep pockets and huge bases of customers, and we fintechs were rising up all over Silicon Valley and nibbling around the edges," said Brimmer.

She said the brand decided to ask itself: "If our brand went away tomorrow, would anybody care?"

Because of this, Ally decided to create a new framework and way to go to market. The three pillars are: Inciting the category again and fueling dissatisfaction; improving and committing to being better and owning up to mistakes; and inspiring people to care deeply about their choice of brand.

This led Ally to launching an agency review, with a one-line brief for agencies: Make Ally a famous brand.

Anomaly won the business, and in the fall of 2018, the shop helped Ally incite consumers again with its "Payback time" campaign, which focused on the fact that most people don’t realize how much money they’re leaving on the table in their traditional accounts.

And the creative worked.

In two weeks after the campaign launched, Ally received $2 billion in deposits and had 75,000 new accounts, compared to having only 52,000 new customers in the entire previous quarter.

More recently, Ally and Anomaly launched creative that focuses on ratings and how consumers should check the brand’s online reviews in contrast to its competitors.

Ally’s brand valuation has nearly doubled this year, said Brimmer, showing the power of creativity.

If brands want to thrive, Brimmer believes they should focus on being innovative, authentic, real, ready for the journey and laser-focused on what their customers really want.

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