TV & Streaming

E-Trade CMO Andrea Zaretsky on the brand’s Super Bowl legacy and the return of its iconic baby

Unlike many other brands, E-Trade’s spot isn’t stacked with celebs. That’s because “we believe the E-Trade baby is a celebrity,” Zaretsky said.
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E-Trade via YouTube

· 4 min read

The E-Trade baby’s back. Tell a friend.

The company first introduced the tot in 2008, but retired him in 2014. That was until last year’s Super Bowl, when he made his triumphant return.

The brand (not just the baby, who, unlike Mr. Peanut, does not age) has been an on-and-off Super Bowl advertiser for 15 years. It even ran an upbeat commercial during the 2021 game, when some commercials were uncharacteristically somber.

This year, E-Trade will run a 30-second ad in the first quarter of the game, according to CMO Andrea Zaretsky. The commercial is still under wraps, though the brand has released a wedding-themed teaser. Zaretsky sat down with Marketing Brew to break down the brand’s Super Bowl strategy over the years and how it’s approaching the game this year.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Super Bowl ad prices have only gone up since E-Trade first started advertising during the game. Why does this continue to be a worthwhile investment?

We continue to see tremendous value in [Super Bowl] advertising. E-Trade really has a long and storied history of Super Bowl spots, and it’s helped us develop a real connection with investing consumers. That’s hard to find across the financial services industry.

In a recent survey we conducted with Harris Poll, about three-quarters of US adults said advertisers shouldn’t release their spots in advance of the game. Still, it’s obviously a popular move for a lot of brands. Why did you decide to release a teaser before game day?

We traditionally have never released the full spot, but we did do a teaser last year, and we thought that was a great way to generate excitement. We were bringing the baby back. In prior years as an advertiser, we always got questions [about the baby], so we knew there was already public discussion on this, particularly leading up to every Super Bowl, so we wanted to really be part of that dialogue and generate some anticipation for the fact that we would be bringing the baby back.

For a lot of Americans, it’s a tough time between inflation, layoffs, and a potential recession. To what extent have those issues factored into your Super Bowl strategy and messaging this year?

We think education and planning are critical, particularly when facing moments like this, so we think it’s a really important message to talk about with consumers so they’re ready for the ups and downs of the market.

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E-Trade ran an ad in the 2021 Super Bowl, the pandemic year when a lot of advertisers sat out. What was the decision-making process behind running an ad during that year in particular?

With our advertising, it’s all about being proactive, taking charge, and feeling in control of your financial life through education, through knowledge, and through the products and services that we offer. We believe that it was particularly important during the pandemic to be out there with that message. In an environment where you couldn’t control a lot, you certainly could control education and knowledge and planning and getting ready for your financial life.

It seems like nearly every other brand is putting celebrities on their Super Bowl ads, which is something that E-Trade has avoided. Why is that?

We believe the E-Trade baby is a celebrity. That’s how we approached that decision.

Obviously the Super Bowl is a huge stage, a massive audience, but do you have a more specific target audience you’re trying to reach with this ad?

Now that E-Trade is part of Morgan Stanley, we really believe we are a category of one and we’re able to serve every wealth and life stage. We’re looking for a really broad and diverse audience because we believe we have products and services for every stage of life and every group. We love the fact that it’s a very big stage, the largest event of the year. We think it’s a perfect match for what we're offering in terms of our value proposition.

How does advertising in the Super Bowl, in particular this spot, factor into your larger marketing strategy for the year or beyond?

Working on this life-stage strategy is really exciting for us. We’re starting with weddings and marriage [in this ad], and in terms of cultural context and relevance for today and this broad audience, we’ve seen weddings return to pre-pandemic levels…We think it’s a really important, broad moment to celebrate and showcase how E-Trade from Morgan Stanley can be that perfect partner as you’re getting ready for that big day. We’ll continue to explore this as a theme, as well as other key life moments, as we move forward with our market strategy throughout the year.

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Marketing Brew informs marketing pros of the latest on brand strategy, social media, and ad tech via our weekday newsletter, virtual events, marketing conferences, and digital guides.