Ally Bank’s Second New Ad Surfaces
Friday, May 15, 2009, may one day be known in bank marketing circles as the day rebranding history was made. This was the day troubled GMAC Bank became officially known as Ally Bank. What wasn’t obvious on this fateful day is the ultimate success of the rebranding effort.
Fortunately for everyone involved, this rebranding effort went way beyond a simple name change. Basically, the senior executives in charge – particularly the bank’s CMO, Sanjay Gupta – decided to start over with Ally Bank.
Starting over was deemed necessary if the new bank was to distance itself from the old bank.
Starting over can mean many things. For Ally Bank, it meant starting from ground zero with a new business model. This meant new positioning, new products, new pricing, new disclosures, state-of-the-art delivery system, new advertising campaign, new everything.
Ally Bank was not only bent on distancing itself from its former parent GMAC, it was distancing itself from traditional retail banking.
Ally was introduced to the public as a totally new kind of consumer bank – a bank focused on honesty, transparency, and simplicity. The timing was perfect!
These messages were delivered by an aggressive marketing campaign consisting of TV spots, glossy full-page magazine ads, WSJ ads, some direct mail, and a ubiquitous presence on the Internet via banner and pop-up ads. This campaign persists to this day.
As an avid reader of magazines, a week never goes by that I haven’t encountered one or more purple Ally Bank ads jumping off the page with its large, stylized “a” dominating the layout. Somewhere along the line, the second color grey became a light blue. Being a long-time bank marketing person, I actually look forward to the very simple Ally Bank magazine ads.
They are a breath of fresh air compared to most traditional bank advertising.
As an online-only bank, Ally can afford to run full-page magazine ads in the nation’s most widely-read weeklies and monthlies like Fortune, Businessweek, Wired, and Newsweek. Its only competition in magazines is the occasional ad from Wells Fargo and Bank of America. Basically, Ally Bank owns bank marketing in magazines.
And it definitely owns the bank marketing position on the Internet.
One of the many things I like about Ally Bank is the layout consistency of its magazine ads.
This consistency was shaken earlier this month upon encountering a very different layout in the July 4, 2011 issue of Fortune. I immediately wrote about it in my July 5 blog, complete with sample ad, which you can read here. Please take the time to read the two comments below the blog.
In the blog I mention the fact that earlier this year, Ally Bank changed media agencies – leaving Bartle Bogle Hegarty for Grey and G2, both part of the Grey Group. The new ad suggests that perhaps the new agency is testing some major changes to the bank’s creative.
Changing media agencies is always a high-risk decision as there is no assurance that the new agency’s creative will do a better job than that of the agency it replaced. Being a skeptic, I’m always leery when a bank changes agencies – be it an ad agency, a direct response agency, a merchandising agency, or social media agency.
Too often, bank executives tire of their advertising and marketing creative long before it becomes boring to consumers. Hopefully, this isn’t the case with Ally Bank.
Still, Ally’s new ad layout is a lingering concern in my mind. Is it the future or merely a test?
Well, the other day the second new Ally Bank ad surfaced in the July 25 issue of Fortune magazine. It’s shown below.
Given that both ads appear in Fortune, I’m beginning to believe that perhaps it is a test using only one magazine. This thought was further reinforced when, yesterday, the latest issue of Newsweek arrived in the mail. On the back, inside cover is an ad in the original layout promoting the bank’s new Raise Your Rate 4-Year CD.
So, where does this leave me?
I’ve searched the Internet for articles about Ally Bank’s new advertising and have come up empty. Given the timing with the new agency and the new ad layouts, I’m convinced both ads are part of a layout test. I already miss the large, stylized “a” dominating the page. Yet, I find the addition of a familiar visual like the old land-line phone and a free-standing ATM to be a refreshing change.
I guess we’re all going to have to wait until the marketing folks at Ally Bank are ready to talk to the media about what’s happening with the bank’s new agency. In the meantime, I’ll continue reporting on what I find in the magazines.