Super Bowl Watch: SunTrust Teaser, Ad Aim to Relieve Financial Stress

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SunTrust Banks

SunTrust Banks has released the teaser for its first-ever Super Bowl ad, titled “Hold Your Breath.” The brand hopes the 12-second video serves as the top of an engagement funnel that takes audiences right through its actual ad on February 7—and then on to deeper involvement with SunTrust and its efforts to help Americans through financially anxious times.

The teaser simply shows a variety of consumers holding their breath, which is meant to suggest SunTrust’s Big Game theme that “you’re not enjoying life’s moments to the fullest potential if you’re feeling financially stressed,” as Corinne Cuthbertson, senior vice president of brand advertising and digital marketing for the Atlanta-based financial giant, told brandchannel.

“We wanted to do something very different to get exposure and spark curiosity about how people can move from financial stress to financial confidence,” Cuthbertson said.

Overall, SunTrust is presenting financial stress as a significant social concern and is using its Super Bowl platform to “launch a national conversation” about what Americans can do in light of it, as CEO William H. Rogers put it recently in a press release.

As Cuthbertson told brandchannel, “We want to inspire people to do something” about easing their financial insecurity “and they’ll also realize they’re not alone in doing it. Taking the first step forward is what we’re trying to inspire people to do.”

So the “Hold Your Breath” ad and associated campaign have been carefully designed to nudge Americans down this path. The teaser points people to a website that SunTrust just launched as well, OnUp.com, which invites people to learn more about financial health and to take what Cuthbertson called a “mental wealth quiz.”

SunTrust Banks

Based on how a visitor performs on the 10-question quiz, SunTrust then recommends next steps, including branded-content articles from its “resource center” on topics such as learning how to budget. In the meantime, the brand is accelerating social media communications about the teaser, OnUp.com and its Super Bowl ad.

Scott Goodson, founder and CEO of the bank’s ad agency, StrawberryFrog, told brandchannel that on game day, SunTrust’s actual commercial will be “one of the first Super Bowl ads that will be truly interactive from the first seconds, and it will hold you for the full 30 seconds. And at the end, it’s going to drive you to OnUp.com, where you can experience relief and get some practical tips.”

But that’s not all. Following the airing of the ad, the brand will invite consumers to “make your own version of our Super Bowl ad,” Cuthbertson said, “with the ability to bring your own personal moments to it. That way we can continue to share the message.”

And, in fact, SunTrust will be using the ad as a launching point to help viewers make a long-term difference in easing their financial anxieties.

SunTrust Banks

That’s why Goodson rejected the idea that the only effective Super Bowl ads are funny or outlandish. “There are a lot of ways to skin a cat,” he said. “Last year, there were a lot of ads that were super funny but didn’t do anything for sales. I don’t think that’s the exclusive way to tell a story.”

Goodson added, “The key thing is to remember the mood of your audience. We don’t plan to lecture, but we’re living at a time when America is a little bit fearful and worried about the future and important issues—and financial stress is one of those issues.

“People will respond to an ad that says something serious and does it in a really creative way,” he added, “and in a way that makes them feel empowered and inspired and optimistic.”

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