Janelle Monáe Is the Voice of Morgan Stanley's First Global Campaign in 4 Years

'Old school grit' meets 'new world ideas' in work by Lippincott

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Janelle Monáe may have a knack for solving mysteries, as seen during her recent turn in Glass Onion, but their latest project aims to take the guesswork out of investing in an ever-changing financial landscape. 

The award-winning singer, songwriter and actor teamed up with Morgan Stanley for “Old School Grit. New World Ideas,” the brand’s new global campaign created with new agency partner, Lippincott.

The 90-second spot juxtaposes Monáe’s smooth and steady narration with quick cuts of boxers, runners, bankers and an assortment of everyday people. It highlights the many ways the experience of seasoned professionals, combined with the innovation of fresh thinking and talent, proves to be an asset worth investing in. At one point, Monáe acknowledges the investment firm “may seem like a contradiction” before cheekily declaring, “… and we are.”

Morgan Stanley/Lippincott

“At 87 years old, we still see the world with the wonder of new eyes,” says Monáe, as the camera cuts to an elderly man holding a baby, a clear nod to the storied institution’s new direction. 

The campaign—directed by Brazilian directing duo Salsa, with photography by Pep Ávila—launched on Jan. 24 and features 15- and 30-second versions of the spot that will run on CNN, Bloomberg and other linear channels. There will also be digital, print, out-of-home, social and audio components, along with new media partnerships with Condé Nast Traveler, Vogue and People Magazine. 

The firm notes creative from the campaign will also be integrated into upcoming sponsorships, including The Players Championship and partnerships with the nonprofit, First Tee. 

“This campaign really underscores our commitment to delivering the full power of Morgan Stanley to a diverse set of audiences and further positioning the firm as offering an individualized approach for the unique needs of all,” said Alice Milligan, CMO of Morgan Stanley.

A long-term investment strategy 

“Old School Grit. New World Ideas” marks Morgan Stanley’s first global brand campaign since 2019, when it began acquiring major platforms like online investment banking company E*Trade, wealth management solutions provider Eaton Vance and Saas compliance platform Solium Capital. The latest additions to the 87-year-old company’s house of brands have been part of a pointed strategy to grow and diversify its client roster, while simultaneously providing an enhanced experience for new and existing investors.

“After a number of recent strategic acquisitions, Morgan Stanley has a unique story to tell both in terms of where we’ve been and where we’re going,” said Milligan in a statement. “Our new campaign celebrates our legacy as a trusted firm while showcasing how we’re helping shape the world of tomorrow.”

Prior to launching the global campaign with Monáe, who was recently honored with the SeeHer Award at the Critics Choice Awards, the firm previously announced collaborations with fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff—who redesigned a limited-edition “banker bag” that debuted during the presentation of her Spring ’23 collection—and Canadian tennis phenom Leylah Fernandez. 

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