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Charles Schwab Confronts Impulse Buying

Firm's founder stars in new social campaign
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Don't spend $200 on a rabbit mask at a renaissance fair, says Charles Schwab. Invest the cash instead.

The financial services company launched Tuesday "Oh Chuck! I Blew My Cash," a new social video campaign highlighting the harebrained impulse purchases young people often make—and featuring Charles R. Schwab, the company's founder, offering some slightly exasperated tips on how to better manage money. The clips, created by San Francisco-based agency Mekanism and running on the brand's YouTube and Facebook pages, have a little fun with the subject matter, also tackling such presumably ill-advised buys as a $50 kobe-beef-and-foie-gras burger, and enough collectible sneakers to fill a storage unit. The tone marks something of a detour from the other content on the brand's YouTube page, which appears to trend drier.

It's not unprecedented that Schwab himself is present in his company's marketing, but he last appeared in an ad in 2008, during the recession, and more recent YouTube clips feature him sharing his perspective on somewhat denser financial subjects like investment in ETFs (exchange-traded funds). The new spots though, particularly caught Schwab's interest, according to CMO Laurine Garrity. "He was really engaged with this idea and saw the opportunity in talking to people about investing in a way that was lighthearted but educational," Garrity said.

In addition to the three clips the firm released today, three more will roll out in coming weeks. The stories in the videos are derived from real submissions by consumers. The drawn-out releases are aimed at keeping an audience's attention during a contest component of the campaign. It runs through June 26 and invites Facebook users to submit videos about their own impulse buys, then vote on the stories they like best for a chance to win $10,000 to invest in a Charles Schwab account.

The brand's goals? "We're definitely interesting in growing our Facebook fans and our followers on Twitter because it's just another way to interact and engage with investors. This is part of a broader social media strategy that we're developing," said Garrity. As for its target audience: "Part of the strategy is to reach out to younger investors—investors who are in that phase of accumulating their assets—and develop a relationship with them early on and grow with them as they grow with us," she said.

Check out the spots below.