Schwab TV, Print Bows

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

The initial leg of the print and TV campaign broke last week. The effort includes four 30-second TV spots tagged, “There’s never been a better time for Charles Schwab,” which will air during the French Open, Wimbledon, news shows, ER, Law & Order and the Tony Awards, among others.

The lead ad opens on a train, where an investor shares a “hot tip” with his seatmate, only to hear the stock disparaged by a chorus of other investors who got the same advice. The text, “We give expert advice based on facts, not hype, designed for individual investors,” appears onscreen.

In a second spot, founder Charles Schwab and president and co-CEO David Pottruck drive that point home.

The work is slated to run through July; other efforts are planned for this year. Schwab spent more than $135 million in 2001, according to CMR.

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

The work is based on a branding strat egy the Aus tin, Texas shop created for Schwab’s online unit, CyberTrader. That strat egy helped convince the client to shift its account to GSD&M [Adweek, April 22]. BBDO in New York was the incumbent.

Two other spots play off Mer rill Lynch’s recent legal troubles (New York Attorney General Elliot Spitzer fined the brokerage $100 million for allegedly touting dubious stock offerings). In one, a broker studies a menu while talking by phone to a client. He tells the 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 shows a manager at an unnamed brokerage promising “courtside playoff seats” to his eager employees, but only if they “put some lipstick on this pig.”