What Wealthsimple's new ad with Martin Short can teach advisors

CMO at money management platform outlines approach to Canadian icon, how humour can help connect the industry with investors

What Wealthsimple's new ad with Martin Short can teach advisors

Wealthsimple is known for its high-flying ad campaigns, but it’s latest might be their most noteworthy to date. Featuring Canadian icon Martin Short, the brand new ad has Short phoning in his performance. He misreads the slogan ‘your money should work harder than you do’ — replacing ‘money’ with ‘monkey’ — before being literally carried to a helicopter and flown to his car across a parking lot. It’s a joke-packed minute of absurdity, but one that Wealthsimple’s CMO believes reflects the mood of Canadian investors today.

Rubina Singh explained why Wealthsimple approached Martin Short for this ad, the process behind the commercial, and what the Only Murders in the Building star brought to the creative process. She outlined, too, why an absurd and funny approach can help financial firms and advisors connect more deeply with investors during what has been a deeply challenging time.

“Empathy goes further than just sympathy. We all know it’s been hard, we’re all feeling that burn whether you’re saving for retirement, or the holidays. It doesn’t matter who you are, you feel that pinch these days. Saying that, to me, is the bare minimum in terms of being able to connect with your potential clients or existing clients,” Singh says. “What I believe humour does in a unique way is it establishes a deeper relationship. It shows that not only do we get it, but we have gone deep in those areas. We understand the fact that it really is ridiculous and absurd that all your hard work is not enough.”

The messaging of the campaign revolves around the absurd idea that Canadians working full time are struggling to achieve their goals. It’s an idea that Singh says was gleaned through conversations with Wealthsimple’s own advisors and their clients. Conversations were straying into the absurd, and clients would often laugh at their sheer frustration. Singh thinks that any financial professional seeking to connect with Canadians right now can use humour to inject humanity. A solemn corporate acknowledgement of hard times is one thing, but a shared laugh about the number of ‘unprecedented events’ we’ve been put through in the past few years can build real connection.

Building connection was a major motivating force behind Wealthsimple’s outreach to Martin Short. Singh says the comedian & actor holds an almost unmatched appeal among Canadians of all generations. Whether for his roles on SCTV, Saturday Night Live, Arrested Development, or Only Murders in the Building, the Hamilton, On. native has wormed his way into the hearts of nearly every Canadian generation. Singh admits that if they didn’t get Short for the role Wealthsimple might have to plan a whole new campaign, though she accepts Eugene Levy could have offered a similar generation-spanning appeal.

“Wealthsimple has always been a go big or go home company in everything it does,” Singh says. “So it was Martin Short or bust.”

The ad creation process involved a number of stakeholders. Wealthsimple’s own in-house creative team, an outside agency, as well as both Short and one of his preferred collaborating comedy writers. There was also plenty of improvisation on set to end up at their final product.

While most Canadian financial advisors don’t have the budget to hire iconic Canadian celebrities, Singh thinks they can still find takeaways from these ads for their own outreach and marketing efforts. The right sort of humour can create deeper connection and understanding, especially in the face of hardship.

“My advice for anybody within this space is really about injecting humanity into it, and that is about showing a range of emotions, not just one,” Singh says. “Ultimately, when you can peel back those layers of corporate speak and jargon and actually get to the core human emotions that we’re all feeling at this moment, that’s what really stands out. That’s what Wealthsimple has done so well for many years.”