Trading Co.’s Adspend Takes Off With Market

At the height of the dot-com boom four years ago, E*Trade was spending $140 million a year on advertising that put a chimpanzee’s face on online trading.

The company’s ad budget fell with the economy two years later. But in an effort to capitalize on a stock-market upswing while using a more conservative, product-centered strategy, E*Trade has doubled its marketing budget from last year, putting $90 million behind an ad and direct marketing effort that broke last week from Omnicom Group’s Martin/Williams.

“The company has evolved, and our messages have evolved with it,” said Pam Kramer, chief marketing officer at the Menlo Park, Calif.-based client.

One humorous TV spot shows a couple deciding to move as they watch unsavory neighbors arrive next door. A mortgage-transfer program offered by E*Trade allows them to leave easily. The campaign introduces the theme, “Why on earth wouldn’t you?”

“Questioning people’s behavior is … important to [E*Trade],” said Tom Moudry, ecd of M/W in Minneapolis. “[The line] simply sums up a thought that if you could have a benefit that’s tangible, you should reconsider your behavior.”

E*Trade underwent a corporate shakeup in January 2003 that installed Mitchell Caplan as CEO. He has run the company more conservatively, said Mike Ford- Taggart, an equity analyst at Morningstar in Chicago. “E*Trade is trying to be what Charles Schwab was a decade ago,” Ford-Taggart said. “Mitch Caplan will tell you he’s trying to build something that lasts.”

E*Trade is best known for work from Omnicom’s Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco, which included the 2000 Super Bowl spot showing a chimp and the text, “Well, we just wasted $2 million bucks. What are you going to do with your money?” Interpublic Group’s Initiative Media handles media planning and buying.