Home > NewsRelease > #201 E-Trade TV Ad
#201 E-Trade TV Ad
Denny Hatch -- Direct Mail Expert Denny Hatch -- Direct Mail Expert
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Philadelphia, PA
Sunday, March 31, 2024



#201Blogpost             Wednesday, 20 March 2024


Postedby Denny Hatch
(WithMany Thanks to Robert Hacker)


The Goofiest 30-Second Brokerage Spot in
 TV History Perpetrated by a Trendy Agency.


E*TRADE PicklebabiesSuper Bowl Ad 2024. Click Below.



Founded in 1991 by William A. Porterand Bernard A. Newcomb, E*TRADE enables investors to go online anywhere onearth at any time and trade. Two decades later E*TRADE has 5.2 million accountholders, each with an average account value of $70,000+ and a total of morethan $360 billion in retail client assets.  


On October 2, 2020, E*TRADE joinedforces with the Morgan Stanley behemoth with 16 million clients and clientassets of $6.3 Trillion.


What the Kids SaidAbout E*TRADE in 30 Seconds.


RED KID:     So this isPickleball?

BLUE KID:    It’s basically forbabies, but for adults.

RED KID:     It should becalled Wiffle tennis.

BLUE KID:    Pickle!

RED KID:     Yeah, aw!

BLUE KID:    Whoo!

RED KID:     These guysare intense.

BLUE KID:    We got nothing toworry about. With E*TRADE
                    from Morgan Stanley, we’re ready for whatever
                     getsserved up.

ADULT:         Dude, you gotta work on your trash talk.

RED KID:      I’d rather work on saving for retirement.

BLUE KID:    Or college, sinceyou like to get schooled.

RED KID:      That’sa pretty good burn, right? Got him.

BLUE KID:     Good GameThanks for coming to our clinic. The
                     firstone’s free.



“GET IN THE GAME... ?????”

Excuse me, a family’s life savings and financial future ain’t a kiddy game.


Memoriesof 30 Years Ago.

 As editor and publisher of TargetMarketing magazine for 7 years, I was constantly on the road visitingadvertisers and exhibiting (and/or speaking at) direct marketing gatherings.


At a big expo, Idistinctly remember one oh-so-young marketing guy at the podium proclaiming: “Neverforget our main business as direct marketers is satisfying customer’sneeds.”


 The two-word instant reaction in my head: THAT'S BULLSH**.


    Scheduled as thenext speaker at the session, I ad-libbed new opening remarks: “Contrary to thewords of the distinguished previous speaker, we are not in the businessof satisfying needs. I need toilet paper. I need gas forthe car. I need Jockey underwear. I want a Jaguar.”


    I had wanted aJaguar ever since my boyhood friend Tony Hayes turned 18 and his parents gave hima 1952 XK120. Yum, yum.

It's doubtful we could afford a Jaguaron our modest income at the time. But the Jaguar folks never came up with anupbeat, informative ad campaign that touted all the reasons why a Jag wouldenhance our existence and be well worth the investment if we were lucky enoughto get our hands on one. 


In remembering Tony’s glorious XK120 some 60years later I finally came up with a unique selling proposition (USP) for thiscranky marketing blog/electronic newsletter:

“Directmarketing is the science and art
of creating wants and changing behavior.”


Backto the Present.  Let’s Start with theWest Coast Agency That Played Holy Moly Mayhem with E*TRADE’s $9 Million Smackers.


I Googled E*TRADE's wackadoodle agency.


 Below is the very first image in theE*TRADE agency’s slide show welcoming you into their eerie weirdo world.



Yep. Above is the first image you see.My three-letter word in reaction:




Wherethe Agency's Dilettantes and Management Blew It.

1.   This Super Bowl spot has nothing to dowith brokerage,
   finance or the benefits of using E*TRADE. It was all about


2.   The pickleball ad has no offer,no call-to-action — not even the    suggestion to open an E*TRADEaccount and how to do it.


3.   No way to measure the ad’s success or failure in termsof
  Return on Investment (ROI).


Hacker's Wizardry

 I contacted thesavviest marker I ever knew — longtime friend, mentor and guru, legendarynow retired) Seattle marketing genius Robert Hacker. I asked Bob about theE*TRADE campaign and the outrageous cost — $7 million for a 30-second oh-so cutesy-poogag ad. It’s core achievement: extraordinary trompe l’oeil lip synching withadult comments by these ‘Picklebabies.” The campaign was most likely created by ahotshot, hip agency. (My take: 72andSunnyis far moreinterested in agency publicity and winning awards rather than advertisements that bring in money and customers for their clients).


Retired Bob Hacker successfully engaging in hisfavorite hobby.
Second favorite hobby: creating magnificent wooden salad bowls)


Bob’sImmediate Reply:

Can only share myexperience. I started out as an advertising guy, both on the agency and clientside.  It was fun, gotta say, but it was bereft of meaning. Advertising is all about “how cool can you be?”  Since the 50’s or 60’s ithas never been about client ROI.  It’s always about “cool”.  Can Iget recognized as “cool”?  Can I win an award?  Can I get a free tripto Cannes?   Can I work for an agency or client that does “coolerstuff” than I’m doing now?  It’s always about “me”, never the clientand/or their business needs.  So I left the fey cult of cutie pie for theworld of ROI.  Loved it!  No more “how cool am I” award shows, justROI.  If you beat the ROI target, you’re a hero, miss it, you’re azero.  Love that world.  Could never go back to the cutie pieworld.  Do I really care what creative peers think of me?  Hellno!  I cared about how much money my clients made with my help.  Youcan argue about what’s cooler, there’s no argument about doubling a client’sprofit.  Love that world.

To that end, if yourun an Excel spreadsheet modeling a Super Bowl commercial, Can’t imagine itwould pencil…unless you are totally invested in how your creative team feelsabout their work.


 So, Now Let’s Do Some Math for 

 A Typical Package Goods Product.

 Advertising cost in a typical Fortune 500 isusually 2-4% of
    sales. Let’s assume 3% for this exercise.


 Super Bowl commercial is about$7,000,000. 


 Production and agency fees would be another$2,000,000 
    for atotal of $9,000,000.


 To hit the 3% cost-per-sale figure, thespot would have to
    generate ($9,000,000/.03) = $300,000,000.


 That’s the bet.  That’s the way a directmarketing agency
    wouldpresent it.  A general agency never does the calculation. 
    If they did, they’d neverget to run the spot.


 Why do direct marketers and general agencypeople behave
    sodifferently?  To a general agency, the client has a budget
    for them to spend.  A direct marketer hasfunds to invest.


 And they always work hard to avoid making abad bet.


 Different assumptions would drive a differentmodel. Use
    your own, see if you would still make the bet.

Takeawaysto Consider:


The Ten InviolableRules of Advertising

Compiled by DennyHatch Over 60 Years. 


Rule #1: “The only purpose of advertisingis to make sales. It is profitable or unprofitable according to its actualsales.” 

—Claude Hopkins, Scientific Advertising


Rule #2: “Your job is to sell, notentertain.” 

—Jack Maxson, freelancer, creator of theBrookstone catalog


Rule#3: “If it doesn’t sell,it’s not creative.” 

—Credo of Benton and Bowles, Chicago, in the1930s


Rule#4: “Every time we getcreative we lose money.” 

—Ed McCabe, president of BMG Music Club


Rule#5: Beware of humor inadvertising. People don’t buy from clowns.” —David Ogilvy


Rule #6: The 7 emotional hot buttons thatmake people buy: Fear – Greed – Guilt – Anger – Exclusivity – Salvation –Flattery 

—Bob Hacker, Axel Anderssen, DennyHatch 


Rule #7: “The prospect doesn’t give a damn aboutyou, your company or your product. All that matters is, ‘What’s in it forme?’” 

—Bob Hacker


Rule #8: Always listen toW-I-I FM.  

Direct Marketing Old Saw


Rule #9: “Always make it easyto order.”  

Elsworth Howell, CEO, Grolier Enterprises


Rule #10. "Awards are like hemorrhoids.Sooner or later every asshole gets one."

—Charlotte Rampling/Francois Ozon. "Swimming Pool."




Word Count: 1320



292pp     6" x 9"
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At age 15, Denny Hatch—as a lowly apprentice—wrote his first news release for a Connecticut summer theater. To his astonishment it ran verbatim in The Middletown Press.He was instantly hooked on writing. After a two-year stint in the U.S. Army (1958-60), Denny had nine jobs in his first 12 years in business. He was fired from five of them and went on to save two businesses and start three others. One of his businesses—WHO’S MAILING WHAT! newsletterand archive service founded in 1984—revolutionized the science of how to measure the success of competitors’ direct mail. In the past 55 yearshe has been a book club director, magazine publisher, advertising copywriter/designer, editor, journalist and marketing consultant. He is the author of four published novels and seven books on business and marketing.


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