E*TRADE's New Ad Tells Investors: Don't Get Mad, Get Even

E*TRADE, the New York-based online brokerage, doesn't want you to hate the wealthy – it wants you to get even with them by becoming one thanks to online investing.

That's the message the discount broker is sending in a new ad that ran during Monday Night Football earlier this week. The advertisement shows a modest worker clearly jealous of his more wealthy colleague, who takes up two spots in the parking lot and gabs away on the phone with his feet on the desk. After a series of images appear of the mega-rich engaging in wasteful and decadent behavior, the tagline "This is getting a little ridiculous" appears on the screen, followed by the worker logging on to E*TRADE.

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The ad, which runs for a full minute, is part of an advertising campaign launched by E*TRADE Financial Corporation (ETFC​) this past summer calling on people not to get mad at the rich but to get even. According to a report in The New York Post, Lea Stendahl, the head of marketing at E*TRADE, said in June that the campaign is aimed at tapping the financial frustration that things like social media push to the forefront and discussing how to respond positively. After all, many people log on to social media only to find that an acquaintance just got back from a vacation, while someone else purchased a sports car and another just made a fortune in the stock market.

"In this campaign, we acknowledge these everyday frustrations, and encourage consumers to channel them into positive action," E*TRADE's Stendahl said according to The New York Post. "It's an invitation to step off the sidelines and take control of their own financial destiny." Unlike its peers, which typically focus on costs and services with their advertisements, E*TRADE has long embraced humor as a way to get people to invest more with its service. In 2008, E*TRADE made a mark on millions of Americans when its first talking baby ad appeared during the Super Bowl. The baby was so popular that the company used investing-savvy talking babies in its ads for around six years. Paul Idzik came on as chief executive in 2013 and overhauled the advertising strategy, and he was replaced by the online broker's current CEO Karl Roessner in the fall of last year.

E*TRADE's new ad comes as the online investing marketplace is growing crowded with all sorts of players going after self-directed investors. Not only is E*TRADE facing competition from the likes of Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade, it also has the big banks to contend with. Bank of America Merrill Lynch has its Merrill Edge online trading platform, while Wells Fargo & Company (WFC​) recently got into the robo-advisory market. Meanwhile, there are a slew of fintech startups that are enabling people to invest with recommendations offered up by a computer. All of these firms are trying to make it cheap and easy for all sorts of people to build wealth, and if E*TRADE has its way, get revenge on the ultra-wealthy.

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