Back in May, as robo-advisor WealthSimple passed the $1B AUM mark, PM Justin Trudeau took up their invitation and stopped by, making a few remarks. Nothing wildly out of the ordinary… a politician shining a light on an innovative startup success story.

But here’s where it gets interesting: their latest online ad campaign puts Trudeau and his comments front-and-centre. Of course, we’re used to seeing famous people endorse brands… for money. WealthSimple has a series of ‘money diaries’ posts-and-accompanying-ads featuring (presumably paid) celebrities like Kevin Bacon and Woody Harrelson. But I can’t recall another time when a political leader’s endorsement was positioned almost exactly like a paid celebrity. And the more you think about it, the more it makes sense:

Trudeau’s comments become public domain, and he can’t get paid to make them. He’s more than a bargain; he’s free.

Unlike most political leaders, Trudeau—for the moment—has a remarkably high political approval rating (although it’s dropping). More importantly, like Obama (or Trump), he’s worth more than his political approval rating; he’s developed an appealing-to-many personal brand.

Unlike most celebrities, a (relatively untarnished) politician’s endorsement brings more authority/credibility. I may like Kevin Bacon, but I know his wealth comes from his acting and his good looks, not from his economic savvy.

But the real value is in the demographics: while positioning a politician like a celebrity seems risky (political leaders’ approval ratings are rarely over 50%), Trudeau does very well with young, educated, urban professionals, and that’s pretty much WealthSimple’s target demographic. Moreover, with today’s geo- and psychometric-targeting tools, the ads can be deployed where the endorsement is most likely to have a positive effect (not Alberta, presumably).

I’m not sure there’s much of a lesson that the rest of us can apply to our own marketing, but our hat’s off to WealthSimple for seeing the bargain basement opportunity for a celebrity-style endorsement. I’d love to see the data analytics.

Categories: MarketingPsychology

Julian Scarfe

Strategic marketing consultant & digital media expert, helping clients in the investment industry - mutual fund, hedge fund & ETF firms, advisor organizations, IR and other financial services. Strategy, branding, web, social, outreach, inbound, video, sales support materials, marketing cost auditing.