Amid Wall Street Woes, Schwab’s ‘Never Been Better’

GSD&M’s first work for Charles Schwab Co. plays off investor uncertainty in the face of insider trading, stock manipulation and other Wall Street scandals.

The initial component of the print and television ef-fort is appearing this month on national broadcast and cable outlets. Telecasts of the French Open and Wimbledon are among the network sports venues that will see four 30-second TV spots tagged, “There’s never been a better time for Charles Schwab.”

The Austin, Texas, shop, which marketed CyberTrader, Schwab’s online unit, acquired the account in April without a review. BBDO in New York was the incumbent.

The lead spot opens on a commuter train where an investor shares a “hot tip” with his seatmate, only to hear the stock, “Tacomacom,” disparaged by an unhappy chorus of other investors who got the same advice from their brokers. “We give expert advice based on facts, not hype, designed for individual investors” is the on-screen super.

Embedded in all the messaging is Schwab’s “28-year commitment” to small investors, said GSD&M spokesman Eric Webber.

“We built the campaign around the fact that too many big firms cater to institutional investors,” Webber said.

A second spot features Charles “Chuck” Schwab and president and co-chief executive officer David Pottruck driving that point home.

Two other television commercials are, in effect, smart bombs, playing off rival Merrill Lynch’s recent legal troubles (New York Attorney General Elliot Spitzer fined the brokerage $100 million for knowingly touting dubious stock offerings). In one spot, a broker studies a Chinese restaurant menu while talking by phone to a client. He tells the hapless investor, “I’m looking at your portfolio right now. I really think you ought to buy this stock.” Fellow brokers chant, “It’s hot, hot, hot!”

The other spot features a manager at an unnamed brokerage promising “courtside playoff seats” to his eager employees, but only if they get out there and “put some lipstick on this pig.” That phrase, sources said, may be too gritty to be heard over the air.