Bank of America Marketing….Promoting cooking tips and home improvement over financial services?

It’s true. Bank of America is engaging in a digital storytelling campaign on video streaming platform Hulu Plus to connect with viewers on a more personal level. How does cooking or home improvement relate to banking? It doesn’t directly; but the message establishes that we are all connected and the archetypal human experience does share certain key elements.

For example, here is one of their recent spots featuring Chef Byron Talbott’s easy ways to get the most out of your measuring cups:

The idea of the campaign is not to pitch a hard sell on why you should use Bank of America for your financial needs. Instead, the company is incorporating a human experience message into their video ads to establish a connection with you. Almost all of us cook at some time, in some way, even if you are just using the microwave. We have all encountered a measuring cup at some point, and this tip is a quick and easy way to help improve your daily life in the kitchen. Since the message adds value, the consumer is more likely to tune in and actually listen to what is being said versus tuning out yet another commercial trying to sell something. The message is concise and relatable, and at the end it clearly ties back to Bank of America with a Call to Action about gaining cash back rewards at the grocery store.

This week, our graduate school lesson explained, “Talk like a human. I cannot stress enough that social media is social! Be real! Talk in the way you want others to talk to you. Respond, react and hold real conversations. Engage your community and be ready to celebrate when they engage back with you.”

This message is not fact-based; it is experience driven. Sure, Bank of America could produce a spot telling you exactly what services they offer. But, would it be memorable? No.

Along the same lines, Bank of America also offers every day tips for people on a budget, such as renovating an old bookcase versus buying a new one. The storytelling messages do relate to the Bank/saving money, which is important. Marketers cannot count on totally random messages to sell a product or service, but note how these messages are focused on YOU and your life versus the Bank itself.

Finally, check out today’s corporate Facebook post for Football Sunday:

Skip the full meal and serve snacks at your next football party to save money without missing any of the fun. See all 8 tips here: http://44d.info/ec9a8

Bank of America's photo.
Marketing Lesson Learned: Meet the target audience right where they are. Others will create the buzz on Football Sunday, so rather than creating a new conversation, an effective marketer will simply join in, in this case with some timely snacking advice to maximize engagement.
Digital storytelling is the wave of the future for integrated marketing communications. The product is taking a backstage while the story forms the main protagonist. You can read more about this revolutionary concept here. Our case study Bank of America currently has more than 2 million Facebook fans and counting, and their YouTube channel has more than 26,000 subscribers. With social media and the trend of video marketing, human experience stories are not only compelling but also easier than ever to produce!  A small company can engage in these same tactics with just an iPhone and a social media profile.
Questions for You:
What commercials or digital storytelling messages are most memorable to you? Why do you think these types of messages stand out amidst the clutter? Let me know in the comment section below or via Twitter.
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8 thoughts on “Bank of America Marketing….Promoting cooking tips and home improvement over financial services?

  1. I am mixed on the Bank of America “home” video’s. Great tips. But could do without the Bank of America Cash Back plug in each one. On the other hand I understand the importance of getting your name out there. To me it seems less authentic when you plug your brand so obviously. Maybe if they said for more great tips visit something like bankofamerica/tips.com. Just a thought. As you said from Barnes “Talk like a human. I cannot stress enough that social media is social! Be real! Talk in the way you want others to talk to you. Respond, react and hold real conversations. Engage your community and be ready to celebrate when they engage back with you,” Great idea maybe just a little old fashion?

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    • Thank you so much for your comment! I like your idea of leading people to the website for more great tips. In some of their Hulu commercials, they do provide this Call to Action, and the website does include more tips on various things, such as baking/cooking, home improvement, etc. Here is the website: http://makeanimpact.bankofamerica.com/tips/home/using-appliances/baking-cooking. I personally think this is the perfect mix of subtle advertising with great human interest value. It is not one of those “here is what we offer, buy from us now” commercials, but it is necessary to at least mention the brand at the end to keep it relevant to the company and to cement the branding in viewers’ minds. I like the Cash Back Rewards plug because it is still providing direct value to the consumer–an intriguing way to save them money, which is what many of these tips are really all about.

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  2. I’ll be honest, when I first started reading this post I thought how silly it was that Bank of America was doing a food commercial! As I kept reading though, I realized you make a great point. It’s very interesting how companies are starting to “join in on the buzz.” Generally, my favorite commercials are done by Sonic, with the two men who never fail to make me chuckle! I will definitely be on the lookout for more commercials that connect with human experiences though! I may even try to incorporate this strategy into marketing for my own business!

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    • Thanks for taking the time to comment, Rachel! I love the Sonic commercials too. Humor is definitely a great marketing strategy when done well. Just look at Coca Cola’s Movie Move commercial or Geico’s endless stream of hilarious, memorable characters.

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  3. Great points, Amanda. I don’t watch much tv anymore and I surely wouldn’t want to pay attention to commercials, but these Bank of Amercia ones do relate to me. The different approach does draw me in as a consumer. Another type of marketing I like is the approach Chickfila has. Those cows are always making me laugh and I also like how their billboards are 3-D with something creative all the time. I like that marketers are trying to stand out in these ways because as a consumer we are inundated with ads and people trying to sell us something all day long.

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    • Thank you, Emily. It is important for marketers to find a way to break through the clutter! The Chick Fil A billboards are a great example. One of my favorites is a seasonal Christmas billboard with red and green lettering (mispelled, of course.) “The burgerz outside are friteful!” Such a classic and very eye catching.

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  4. Amanda,
    The commercials that are most striking to me and “cut through the clutter” are brands who focus on authenticity and touch on an emotional (including humorous) response. I enjoy Publix’s videos that don’t heavily present the brand, but instead focus on major life events (that often feature food). I’ve also enjoyed the recent commercials from Bank of America (on Hulu) that give home decorating tips and inspiration! By utilizing figures who are prominent figures, but not necessarily A-list celebrities allows for us (the viewers) feel like the brand is more authentic, and trying less to sell us something.
    Karen

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    • Karen, if you watch Hulu, then you probably know that their commercials can get very repetitive. Many times, they will play the exact same commercial for the exact same company on every single commercial break. By the third or fourth break, you as the viewer are simply frustrated and annoyed. I think that is why the Bank of America ads stood out to me because they offer a new perspective on each break. The continuity helps in this case, because you are looking forward to seeing the Chef because you learn something new instead of hearing the same exact message again. The Publix commercials that you mention are also really well done. Thanks for sharing and taking the time to comment!

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