E*Trade Stokes Rage Against the 1% in Remarkable Ads From MullenLowe

What's a non-trust fund baby to do?

Headshot of Angela Natividad

Following a creative review earlier this year, and its selection of MullenLowe as agency of record, E*Trade is back with a spankin’ new campaign it hopes will “re-establish” its “rightful place in consumers’ minds as the original place to invest online.”
The “Don’t Get Mad” campaign uses “truth bombs” to shake prospects out of financial passivity … though if passivity is your thing (and you still don’t want to die poor), a new spate of robo advisers might work just as well.
Composed of multiple spots and print work, this fresh attempt to win territory back from the robots kicks off with an anthem spot itself titled “Don’t Get Mad,” wherein a man, dismissed by his well-to-do boss, resentfully imagines everything the “haves” get in life.
For a sense of what that’s like, imagine if Fyre Festival went down as planned. It’s all very Great Gatsby, complete with tulle gowns and pizza delivery via helicopter, and is set to Chaim Topol’s treatment of “If I Were a Rich Man” from Fiddler on the Roof.

“Don’t get mad,” the spot ends, “get E*Trade.” Instead of going all Fight Club and burning corporate America down, our protagonist decides to take it on and become an investor.
The other spots follow along that vein, drawing upon small 99-percenter irritations and making them all the more aggravating with vivid imaginings of what life is probably like on the other side of the curtain.
In “Plane Truth,” a man in coach—getting his seat repeatedly kicked by a bratty kid—gets up to literally gaze through the aforementioned curtain. First class on his flight is set up like a cozy bar, with liberal space and champagne on tap. A beaming stewardess approaches and, as his spirits lift on the robust winds of hope, draws the curtain shut in his face.
“First class is there to remind you you’re not in first class,” E*Trade dryly tells us. “Don’t get mad. Get E*Trade—the original place to invest online.”

Next comes “Yacht Life.” It looks awful—a shark-shaped nautical monstrosity packed with douchebags. But E*Trade, nothing if not self-aware, knows exactly where it’s leading us. “The dumbest guy in high school just got a boat,” it hisses. “Don’t get mad…”

“Hard Work” is anything but, and seems to build from where “Yacht Life” left off. This time, though, the guy partying on the yacht is much older than your dumb high school friend. “The harder you work, the nicer the vacation … your boss goes on.”

“Board Meeting” continues the seafaring trend, this time with Bond-style music and a fully suited exec surfing the waves, dragged along by a helicopter. “Your broker’s unavailable. He’s in a wakeboard meeting,” E*Trade instigates.

The vignettes go live today, and are backed up with a series of print ads that stoke the fires of rage against the 1 percent that much more. This first one draws directly from “Yacht Life,” completing your picture of the “dumbest guy in high school” with a high school photo of him.

“Twins” is a reminder of how much entitlement and ease can be had when you’re lucky enough to be born into a family whose birthday presents include trust funds.

But perhaps more irritating than any of these is “Chicken,” which recounts a fun fact, liable to peck at you when next you review your bank statements.

“Don’t Get Mad” is a pretty aggressive departure from “Opportunity Is Everywhere,” a cutesy R/GA campaign from last year in which various investors spoke in tongue-twisters to describe the sectors they’re literally banking on. It is folksy in comparison, more a message about betting on passions than chasing obscene opulence.

@luckthelady angela.natividad@gmail.com Angela Natividad is a frequent contributor to Adweek's creativity blog, AdFreak. She is also the author of Generation Creation and co-founder of Hurrah, an esports agency. She lives in Paris and when she isn't writing, she can be found picking food off your plate.