Publicis, Poke Ask Life’s Big Questions in UBS Rebranding Campaign

By Erik Oster 

Publicis, along with digital agency Poke, launched a rebranding initiative for UBS which marks the client’s first global brand campaign since 2009.

The campaign includes a 90-second spot called “Asking life’s big questions, with UBS.” It’s a simple yet self-important approach, with nothing but text filling the screen.

The big questions start with “Where do I come from?” and proceed chronologically through a lifetime from there as the ad continues, with questions like “How do I balance my work and family” sitting alongside “How do I set up a charitable fund?” and concluding with the statement, “For some of life’s questions, you’re not alone. Together we can find an answer.” Set to Family of the Year’s generic “Hero,” it’s hard to imagine the text holding viewers’ interest while competing with myriad distractions.

The campaign also includes digital, social media, a new mobile and digital-friendly brand design and a new sonic logo. In conjunction with the global campaign, UBS also announced a “wider cultural partnership” with renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz. UBS has commissioned a new body of work from Leibovitz, focusing on portraits of women who have effected positive change, to be shown at an international exhibition tour entitled “Women,” which launches in London in January, 2016. (Her portrait of Entrepreneur and mother Leticia Herrera is featured below.) There’s also  behind-the-scenes videos documenting the photographer and her process (also featured below). ubs-together-annie-leibovitz-leticia-herrera


“We were going for a uniquely recognizable and emotional campaign and a brighter more modern UBS brand,” said group head of communications & branding  Hubertus Kuelps. “Really doing our homework with exhaustive research and testing helped get us there.” 

The rebranding effort arrives following a February, 2015 investigation of UBS for allegedly facilitating tax evasion by U.S. clients via bearer bonds, the latest in an extensive list of such tax evasion complaints against the Swiss global financial services company from countries including the U.S., France, Belgium and Germany. That same month, UBS, along with CitiGroup and Goldman Sachs, agreed to a $235 million settlement for its role in the sub-prime mortgage crisis. Some may see the rebranding effort, then, as an attempt to repair the institution’s damaged image and/or distract viewers from it with a new slick digital presence and new photography from a well-known icon.