Is the #TDThanksYou Viral Marketing Campaign Integrated? Does It Matter?

• Author: Financial Services Team

Is the #TDThanksYou Viral Marketing Campaign Integrated? Does It Matter?

Let’s be honest: “Customer appreciation” efforts aren’t always that exciting. Of course, there was the “WestJet Christmas Miracle,” but typically, customer appreciation comes off as just balloons and cake, and – if we’re being totally blunt – the little bit of hoopla ends up meaning a whole “lotta” nothing. Apply that dynamic to the financial services industry, and it’s not hard to picture well-intended bank staff cleaning up the decorations before they close the branch for the day and wondering how well they expressed their gratitude.

But TD Bank doesn’t have to wonder. It seems the whole world is certain of one thing: TD Bank knows how to say thank you.

In case you’ve somehow managed to miss it (as we’re publishing this piece it has nearly 8.5 million views), here’s the video from TD Bank Canada at the center of its viral customer appreciation campaign:

As shown in the video, instead of traditional ATMs, select customers (defined by TD Bank as loyal or valuable), were greeted by “Automated Thanking Machines.” The specially equipped ATMs said hello (or bon jour) to the customers, often using their first names. The ATM’s human voice continued conversations with these customers and dispensed gifts like free cash or flower bouquets.

For some customers, the gifts were much more extravagant, and the viral video captures the stories of three:

  • TD Bank’s ATM starts college funds for one customer’s children and sends the whole family to Disneyland.
  • A Toronoto Blue Jays fan gets the surprise of his life not when the machine dispenses to him signed Blue Jays merchandise but when the team’s catcher, Jose Bautista, walks into the branch and invites the customer to toss out the first pitch at an upcoming game.
  • And perhaps the most heartwarming gift from the ATM are plane tickets to Trinidad that allow one customer the chance to go visit her daughter, who is recovering from cancer surgery.

Seeing how moved and shocked all the customers are brings home the video’s tagline: “A thank you can change someone’s day.” A post about the campaign quoted marketing expert Ann Handley, as she comments on the sincerity of the effort: “I look at marketing stuff all day, and I choked up at it. There’s nothing about it that feels canned. The best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing.”

But it’s not just about emotion. As Entrepreneur magazine notes, “The resulting video is as emotionally poignant as it is commercially impactful. Case in point: ‘As I was just talking about switching to TD last week, this has made up my mind,’ wrote one YouTube commenter, Harrison Houde.”

What TD Bank did so brilliantly

  • In a smart move, TD Bank released the video the same day it surprised thousands with customer appreciation events across Canada. In fact, the bank rewarded over 30,000 customers in more than 1,100 branches and even included those using phone and online banking. The events, which did include balloons and cake, created quite a bit more excitement when tellers handed out green envelopes to everyone. The envelopes contained $20 (or a $20 direct deposit for those banking electronically). This nationwide event not only added depth to the “Automated Thanking Machines” video, but it contributed to the buzz. Beyond those featured in the video, TD gave 30,000 customers a really great reason to get excited about – and talk about – their bank.
  • TD Bank chose the right medium for its audience. The blog for the Canadian Newswire (CNW, part of PR Newswire) not only describes how the campaign rolled out but also notes that “online video reaches 91 percent of Canadians” and “YouTube is second largest vehicle for online search.”
  • The bank created a branded hashtag for the campaign. A quick peek at the #TDThanksYou hashtag on Twitter reveals how it’s being received. It’s described as “touching” and “sweet.” Twitter users warn others the video may make them cry. In fact, you can scroll and scroll down the page of tweets featuring the hashtag and not find negativity.

TDThanksYou response tweet

TDThanksYou response tweet2

What TD could do to add longevity
The TD Bank campaign “went viral” in the best sense of the concept, and so in terms of online reach, media exposure and boosts to the brand and its customer loyalty, it’s a remarkable success. If there’s any missed opportunity, it may be that the video itself seems to be the only digital asset for the campaign. Eventually mainstream media, marketing trade pubs and even people on social media are going to stop sharing and commenting about the video. Therefore, it would be nice if there were a landing page or other supporting elements online.

The bank could create a digital destination to feature some of the customers and their prizes. It could tell their stories. It could follow up with those the bank thanked most dramatically. It could show us some behind-the-scenes details, such as “the making of” the video and some backstory about how TD Bank managed to pull off such great surprises. In addition, it could be a home for highlighting (or launching) TD Bank’s future efforts to show customer appreciation.

The benefits of this aren’t only with longevity, but also with online traffic. Currently, the web traffic is primarily social. Why not direct some of that SEO/SEM value toward the bank itself? Online digital assets could boost the bank overall and in the long-term.

TD may have some of this planned for the future. It’s just a couple weeks into the public-facing elements of the campaign. Since it’s been so carefully orchestrated and produced – and wildly successful – we’d encourage TD Bank to not stop until it gets to the finish line… and to push out that finish line as far as it can.

Does the campaign help all banks?
Ad Age reported on the campaign with a headline that started, “Even a bank can go viral.” Is the video a benefit to the banking industry’s reputation even just a little bit? Can banks actually be cool? Cool or not, at least one Twitter user thinks a little bit of faith has been restored in the industry… and that’s a pretty big win:

TDThanksYou response tweet3

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