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E*Trade is getting rid of iconic talking baby

The Iconic E-Trade
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Digital discount broker E*Trade Financial Corp on Thursday bid farewell to the precocious baby who starred in the television commercials advertising its trading platform for the last seven years.

Or rather it gave the baby with the baritone voice the chance to angrily announce that he has resigned.

In a 30-second ad that debuted during the opening games of the NCAA March Madness tournament, a singing cat named Beanie interrupts the baby's announcement that he is funding his retirement account through E*Trade.

Told that the cat, who bursts into song with nonsensical lyrics about bundling and options and ETFs, is his new sidekick, the baby smashes his cellphone and barks: "I'm done. I'm out of here."

For the brokerage firm that is recovering from a near-fatal venture into mortgage lending and banking, the baby's retirement is no laughing matter.

Chief Executive Officer Paul Idzik said soon after his arrival in January 2013 that E*Trade was taking the wrong approach to marketing and should be more scientific in measuring how its messages resonate with clients. He fired marketing head Nick Utton, along with many other top executives. Last summer, he replaced Grey Advertising, which created the baby ads, with Oglivy & Mather.

"The baby was a wonderful iconic expression of what we were," new chief marketing officer Liza Landsman told Reuters. "But we want something that better reflects our present and where we are going."

She wouldn't be specific about the new marketing campaign that will be launched in the next few weeks, but said it will be delivered mostly through online channels such as Yahoo Finance, search engines such as Google and Bing and social networks such as Facebook rather than on television.

An increasing number of E*Trade clients of all ages and wealth levels are using digital means to research investment ideas, communicate with each other and trade. Digital reflects the client experience and is "becoming the brand, to a certain extent," Landsman said.

E*Trade President Navtej Nandra, who like Landsman was hired last May, told Reuters that about 10 percent of the company's trades are now executed through mobile and tablet devices, just behind the 12 percent of trades that rival TD Ameritrade Holdings recently said were sent through smartphones and other mobile devices.

Nandra described the firm as a "digital hybrid" that works across many platforms, including those that rely on customer service representatives and live advisers for clients who want the "human touch." E*Trade is no longer trying to be all things to all people, he said, but it is also going well beyond its old image as a firm whose major appeal is discounted stock trading commissions.

Landsman promised that the new campaign will be as iconic and "witty" as the baby-centric ads. She also said that the firm's advertising budget is "up a little" from last year.

(Editing by Jan Paschal)

Join the discussion

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Terry March 24 2014 at 9:08 PM

Big mistake....

Flag Reply +3 rate up
marciacm March 24 2014 at 7:36 PM

What an idiot!!! These were the best ads on TV and one you REMEMBERED!!!!!
Who hired this idiot??

Flag Reply +6 rate up
pritchinc March 24 2014 at 7:13 PM

The ads were great, still unique and rather creative.
Branding is the game for a 30 second commercial if you ask me.
Ad a laugh and people remember.
All bright minds do not think alike.
The new power regime must play their own game and hire their own peeps.
You never know, maybe they come up with something just as good...

Flag Reply +4 rate up
wfischl March 24 2014 at 7:08 PM

wrong .......

Flag Reply +3 rate up
nwilcox2 March 24 2014 at 7:03 PM

BRING THE BABY BACK....................!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Flag Reply +8 rate up
1 reply
donbanf nwilcox2 March 24 2014 at 11:34 PM

I want my baby back baby back baby back

Flag Reply 0 rate up
sugarcreekchile March 24 2014 at 7:01 PM

"Chief Executive Officer Paul Idzik said soon after his arrival in January 2013 that E*Trade was taking the wrong approach to marketing and should be more scientific in measuring how its messages resonate with clients. "

This guy needs to go back to business school. The name of the game in advertising is name recognition. Name recognition draws clients and consumers in. Once drawn in, you can wow them with all you do then. There was nothing esoteric about the Maytag repairman, Comet's Josephine the Plumber, Charmin's Mr. Whipple, or the Taco Bell chihuahua or the Frito Bandito before the were deemed politically incorrect. These advertising legends made the brand names rememberable.

The baby does the same for E-Trade. The baby's messages could be adapted to reflect more of the services E-Trade provides instead of tossing the baby out with the bathwater. Not a good move, when the public loves baby and doesn't want nobody to put baby in a corner.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
wrldwealth March 24 2014 at 6:49 PM


Flag Reply +3 rate up
brando9189 March 24 2014 at 6:48 PM

Man, that baby was hilarious. Too bad they decided to dump him. You knew every time you saw him, it was an E-Trade commercial, it was catchy and recognizable

Flag Reply +8 rate up
genbar1997 March 24 2014 at 6:47 PM

Tell me it isn't so!!!! those are the best ads ever.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
ohiomoon March 24 2014 at 6:47 PM

How cruel. I'll never buy anything from E trade again.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
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