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.

In fact, it’s hard not to get a little aggravated by the MullenLowe spots—especially when you’re at Cannes, shut off from the sea and tapping away at a computer, to which you’ll most likely be anchored for the rest of this rosé-drenched week. (Hi, bosses! #jokingnotjoking)

But this is exactly the emotional response E*Trade and MullenLowe are looking for. The subtext is older than our battered copy of Rich Dad, Poor Dad: There’s working hard, and there’s working smart.

As the World Economic Forum so kindly reminded us on Twitter this week, the fruits of our labor are worth precious little—unless, E*Trade suggests, you can transform some of those fruits into passive income.

Whether your feelings will beat the robots (driving new competitors WealthSimple and Ellevest) remains to be seen. But E*Trade’s betting they will—for its own fortunes, at least.


Client Credits:
Client: E*TRADE Financial
Chief Executive Officer: Karl Roessner
SVP, Head of Marketing: Lea Stendahl
VP, Brand and Advertising: Dawn Burke
Specialist, Brand and Advertising: Natalie Labuda
VP, Media: Lauren Radcliffe

Agency Credits:
Agency: MullenLowe US
Managing Partner, Chief Creative Officer: Mark Wenneker
Executive Creative Directors: Tim Vaccarino, Dave Weist
Creative Director: Adam Calvert
Creative Director: Jeff Vermeersch
Video Content Director/Yeti Prod.: Emile Doucette
Associate Creative Director: Ian Fairbrother
Associate Creative Director: Chris Cavalieri
Global Chief Strategy Officer: James Fox
Deputy Head of Strategy: Elizabeth Paul
Executive Director of Integrated Production, US: Lisa Setten
Executive Producer: Mary Robinson
Assistant Producer: Sarah Brennan-Athas
Director of Art Production: Tracy Maidment
Studio Director: Bob Hunter
Creative Director, Design: Sean O’Brien
Executive Producer, Curator of Art/Design: Shawn Smith
Associate Director, Print Production and Experiential: Kristine Ring-Janicki
Associate Director, Print Production: Aidan Finnan
Group Leader – Layout: Nick Minieri
Senior Copy Editor: Xazmin Garza
Art Producer: Eden Alaxanian
Jr. Art Producer: Samantha Sturchio
Director of Business Affairs: Kim Burns
Senior Business Affairs Manager: Amy Keddy
Business Affairs Manager: Maria Rougvie
Managing Director: Jonathan Goldmacher
Account Director, PR: Jaclyn Ruelle
Account Director: Crystal Todd
Account Executive: Ellie Keeton
Senior Project Manager: Jessica McLeod

Production Company: Smuggler
Director: Ivan Zacharias
Executive Producer: Allison Kunzman
Line Producer: Nick Landon
DP: Jan Velicky

Spot Titles:
“Don’t Get Mad” :60
“Yacht Life” :30
“Plane Truth” :30

Editorial: Robota
Editor: Filip Malasek

Grade: UPP (Universal Production Partners)
Colorist: Ondřej Štibinger
Grade Producer: Magdalena Halamová

VFX: The Mill
CD/2D Lead: Corey Brown
2D Artists: Blake Druery, Yoon-sun Bae
Designer: Laura Nash
Executive Producer: Rachael Trillo
Producer: Anna Borysewicz
Production Coordinator: Zach Fortin

Audio Post: Sound Lounge
Sound Mixer: Tom Jucarone
Producer: Liana Rosenberg

Music for “Yacht Life”:
Original Music: Mophonics
Mophonics Composer: Benjamin Hostetler
Mophonics Creative Director: Stephan Altman
Mophonics Co-Writer and Vocals: Robert Casey Gibson
Mophonics Head of Production/Partner: Shelley Altman

Music for “Don’t Get Mad”:
“If I Were a Rich Man” from the motion picture FIDDLER ON THE ROOF
Artist: Chaim Topol

Spot Title:
“Crack of Noon” :15
“Hard Work” :15
“Board Meeting” :15

Editorial: PS 260
Editors: Dustin Stephens and Ned Borgman
Assistant Editor: Colin Edelman
Head of Production: Laura Lamb Patterson

Grade: UPP (Universal Production Partners)
Colorist: Ondřej Štibinger
Grade Producer: Magdalena Halamová

On-Line Finishing: PS 260 Finishing
Flame: Margaret Yang
Graphics: Patrick Lavin, Colin Edelman

Audio Post: Sound Lounge
Sound Mixer: Tom Jucarone
Producer: Liana Rosenberg

Print: “Dumb Guy In High School”
Social: “Chicken”
Photography: Getty/Chris Tidmore
Photography: Getty/ The Plummer-Kennedy Conspiracy

“Trust Fund Twinsies” Print
Photography: Dirk Vogel

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@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.