Finance case study: #TDThanksYou becomes Canada's biggest YouTube ad

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TD Canada Trust created the country's most successful YouTube ad of 2014. As a result, it increased brand affinity and touched customers at home and abroad with a heartfelt campaign that is the envy of brand managers globally. What is the secret to the #TDThanksYou campaign success? This case study looks at how the bank won over customers by offering authenticity and genuine choice through a strong paid, owned and earned media strategy.

Case study summary

• Bank created heart-warming video of customers receiving unexpected gifts, combined with paid, owned and earned strategy to boost brand love.

• Paid Strategy used experiential marketing to create the content, then YouTube TrueView to seed it

• Earned Strategy encouraged and enabled social sharing to get the attention of mainstream media and trade PR

• Owned Strategy led customers to contribute and read the #TDThanksYou site

• Most watched video ad in Canada and one of the top in the US- generating media buzz around the world, with a brand affinity increase of 26%.

The Challenge

In summer 2014, TD Canada wanted to use a heartwarming video to share and heighten #TDThanksYou, an on-the-ground experiental campaign, to increase TD's brand affinity with consumers. But once you've successfully developed a creative ad, how do you get your audience to notice, and care?

The solution

The #TDThanksYou campaign used its annual Customer Appreciation Day as an opportunity to achieve this in a distinctly different way. The idea was to thank customers with very personal, very human gestures that underlined the special relationship and to capture these acts in a video for promotion and social sharing.

A key element was to promote the video in a way that was aligned with the central message of thoughtful engagement, so TD chose YouTube TrueView ads. Would the choice of skipping its ad result in fewer views or would this choice itself enhance its message and subsequently the perception of the TD brand?

TD worked with agencies Diamond Integrated Marketing and Leo Burnett to build a campaign that demonstrates TD is truly the bank of comfort. TD wanted to show that it's a bank that cares more about its customers than about their money. How did it do this? In four cities across Canada, it transformed ATMs into Automated Thanking Machines.

"We wanted to say thank you to our loyal customers," explained Chris Stamper, senior vice president of corporate marketing, community, and environment at TD Bank Group.

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A four-minute video ad captured genuine, compelling emotion as pre-selected customers received personalized gifts that took both their breath and viewers' breath away.

Plane tickets for a mother to be with her sick daughter back home in Trinidad. A trip to Disney for a single mom and her two boys. A Blue Jays jersey and the opportunity to throw out the first pitch to José Bautista for a passionate baseball fan.

The #TDThanksYou campaign video shares authentic moments of surprise and heartfelt gratitude when real customers are presented with such special gifts.

"It showcased the personal and meaningful relationships between bank staff and its customers. It captured hearts because it was real," said David Diamond, managing partner at Diamond Integrated Marketing.

TD couldn't give every one of its clients a trip or a special memento, but it could invite a worldwide audience to be a part of someone else's stirring moment, an experience in itself.

From the outset, the strategy was not to create a viral video. It was to share and promote an authentic experience to a demographic that would appreciate and enjoy being part of that.

The campaign, embodied in the emotional video that said it all, was too special to leave to chance on a crowded internet.

TD worked with Google to implement a YouTube TrueView ad strategy that complemented and extended the reach of its campaign. The TrueView ad format offers the audience the choice to view or skip ads after five seconds. Given the authenticity of TD's story, this choice was well matched with the sincere, appreciative message of the creative and the results show that viewers let the gripping video continue.

And choice created goodwill, allowing the word "ad" to get out of the way for the user to enjoy an honest and moving online experience.

The results

Within a week, the video ad had been viewed 5.2 million times and was a social media darling. Instead of skipping it, Canadians watched it, liked it, shared it, and talked about it on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. Ultimately, it captured the top spot on the July 2014 YouTube Canada Leaderboard as the most-watched video ad in Canada and one of the top in the U.S.

The campaign was featured on CTV, NBC, Today, CNN Money, and Mashable, among others, and has become a campaign that digital marketers around the world study and learn from.

To understand the post-campaign impact of the ad, TD ran a Google Consumer Survey to measure change in viewers' perception about the TD brand. A Google Consumer Survey is a powerful online tool that allows brands to gather fast and accurate market research.

Not surprisingly, TD brand affinity, a consumer's emotional connection with a brand, increased 26%. The survey also found that people who watched the video were twice as likely to feel positive about TD.

All because the authentic campaign was underpinned with a paid media strategy that engaged audiences at the right time in the right place and with true choice.

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