Case study: Investment heroes in disguise

Campaign: ‘Investment heroes in disguise’

Client: ASX

Agency: Mercer Bell

 

Background

Lead issue article badgeEquity options had an image problem. Australian investors didn’t fully understand them, and many saw them as a risky investment strategy. Consequently, brokers weren’t recommending options to their clients and the category was in decline.

Used wisely, however, options have the power to protect, grow and diversify a portfolio. And it’s this positive message that ASX wanted to get out to investors, via brokers, seminars and training, so they would start to see options differently.

 

Objectives

The challenge was to get the Australian investment community to reconsider equity options, so that people would start trading them again through ASX.

Our challenge was threefold:

  • to change the perception that many brokers and investors had of equity options,
  • to get them interested enough to attend seminars or take online training to find out more about options, and
  • to ultimately boost the amount of investors trading in options via ASX.

Our key targets were retail brokers and advanced investors who trade through brokers.

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Strategy

Equity options can be a valuable investment tool when understood and applied correctly. But, due to the complexity of options strategies, we knew investors would need repeated and frequent education from their brokers in order to start – and continue – trading them.

What’s more, options, like shares, need to be traded through a stockbroker, reinforcing our decision to target brokers as a key influence group. The problem was that some brokers were wary of recommending options.

Research revealed, however, that there was one group of brokers who  would be more open to re-evaluating options as an investment strategy. These ‘Ambitious Professionals’ have a common goal: they’re always looking for an edge over the competition. So they’re more willing to gain additional knowledge to pass onto their clients, and look for customised solutions for a client if it gets them ahead.

But even within this group of ‘Ambitious Professionals’, research revealed three main barriers preventing them from recommending options:

  • they can be difficult to explain to clients,
  • they’re a complex product, and
  • they’re perceived as risky.

Our challenge was to engage brokers to see equity options differently, so they in turn could influence our wider investor audience. So we partnered with three key broker groups to educate and grow the retail options market.

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An advertising campaign alone wouldn’t be enough. Education was the answer. We decided to run a series of seminars across the country and invite brokers to attend. The seminars were supported by online training resources and webinars on the ASX website.

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Execution

Based on our research findings, we needed creative that could cut through and instantly counter any objections with our ‘Ambitious Professionals’ audience. This led to our creative proposition: ‘options give you options’, surprising territory that challenged current perceptions and allowed us to present equity options as the good guys.

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To get our audience to reconsider equity options and see them in a different light, our campaign challenged them to: ‘See why options are investment heroes in disguise’. Options strategies have wacky names, such as Condor, Butterfly and Split Strike, so we chose three strategies and brought them to life as investment superheroes for this campaign.

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Because of the limited budget for production, we had to be smart about the way we produced our creative assets. We built superhero masks in 3D artwork. Then we used them in various channels – TVCs, eDMs, online banners and in press advertising over a two-month period – to explain how equity options have the power to protect, grow and diversify a portfolio.

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The call to action invited brokers to attend education seminars or go online to access a range of education tools from ASX. Once our broker audience was warmed up, the second phase of our campaign kicked in, targeting investors. They too were invited to attend the seminars and encouraged to access online education tools and webinars. Then we directed them to talk to their broker to find out more.

 

Results

The response to the campaign was impressive. All seminar sessions were full to capacity, with over 2800 attendees, an increase of 180% from previous events. Engagement in the sessions was high, as was the quality of questions from the audience. And a further 1500 people logged in to our webinars.

Following the seminars, 95% of attendees stated they would now consider trading  options, demonstrating increased confidence. And they did. Visits to the ASX Options page increased by 24%. And after years of decline, trading volumes of ETOs are up 7% year-on-
year, equating to an impressive ROI of almost 9:1.

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There was no other activity in market at this time that could have contributed to these results. The brokers aligned to the campaign (value brokers) opened 57% more new options accounts than other retail brokers.

Growth in options trading volume from the best performing value broker has beaten the market average by almost 30%. Thanks to this campaign, ASX has redefined the category and equity options are once again seen as a viable way to invest by the broker community. ASX has also positioned itself as a champion for stimulating the market to the benefit of all involved.

The campaign was recognised with an AMI Award for Marketing Excellence in the B2B Marketing Communications category in 2015.