Expanding the E*Trade Brand

Posted by 18 February, 2008
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E*Trade was founded in 1991 and partnered with America Online and CompuServe in 1992 to offer trading to users of those portals. In 1996, E*Trade established its own Internet site. That year, E*Trade spent $25 million on its first national advertising television campaign, which attempted to convince viewers: “Someday, we’ll all invest this way” and aired on popular network programming. Accompanying the television spots were two-page newspaper ads and Internet banners provocative lead-ins such as “Spank a Yuppie” and “Low Commissions. Leave your kids more to fight over.”E*Trade hired Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in 1999 to develop more national advertising. Goodby’s first campaign, titled “It’s time for E*Trade,” helped the company become one of the top four most recognized Internet brands in 1999 as ranked by Opinion Research Corp. According to agency co-founder Rich Silverstein, “In four months, we built the brand.” CEO Christos Cotsakos maintained that, “brand building was always first and foremost” among the company’s priorities.

The company launched a major ad blitz for the 2000 Super Bowl by buying two spots during the pre-game show, another two spots during the game, and sponsoring the halftime show. E*Trade “dominated the commercial showcase,” according to Brandweek. The memorable “Monkey” ad was named as the fourth-best Super Bowl ad of all time by an online consumer vote. As a result of its Super Bowl ad blitz, E*Trade enjoyed a 600 percent increase in new accounts in the quarter following the Super Bowl compared with the same period the previous year. E*Trade maintained a consistent ad push following the Super Bowl, spending $522 million – or 38 percent of revenues – on marketing.

In 1999, E*Trade diversified beyond online trading with its $1.8 billion purchase of online banking firm Telebank, which it renamed E*Trade Bank. E*Trade hopes to add other services to its site and become “a one-stop financial services supermarket.” Additionally, E*Trade sought to expand beyond the Internet and establish a brick-and-mortar presence that would allow it to compete with traditional brokerage firms. In August 2000, E*Trade opened the first of its brick-and-mortar locations, called “E*Trade Zones,” inside a SuperTarget store. The E*Trade Zones feature customer service representatives and a full complement of services from trading to bank transactions.

E*Trade also planned a network of 18,000 automated-teller machines in gas stations, drugstores, and supermarkets throughout 48 states, which the company upgraded to provide customers with access to brokerage accounts as well as bank accounts. To add to its list of services, in 2000 E*Trade partnered with Ernst & Young to offer both on- and offline investment advice to clients.

In 2000, E*Trade processed 150,000 transactions daily from its customer base of more than 3.6 million. In 2001, E*Trade was the third largest online broker in terms of number of accounts.

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[1] “Bank on It.” Brandweek, December 11, 2000; Louise Lee. “Not Just Clicks Anymore.” Business Week, August 28, 2000; Terry Lefton. “Jerry Gramaglia: Trading Up.” Marketers of the Year, Brandweek, October 11, 1999; Deborah Lohse. “E*Trade Campaign Asks Investors To Skip Brokers for On-line Service.” Wall Street Journal, September 5, 1997, p. B5

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