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When Chase’s Marketing Backfired

The bank’s scolding joke attempt was the finance industry’s worst digital marketing flop of 2019 so far, data analytics show.

This spring, Chase tried its hand at millennial-friendly Twitter marketing. It did not go well. 

The bank used the popular #MondayMotivation hashtag to scold users on why their account balances might be depressed: 

“You: why is my balance so low

Bank account: make coffee at home

Bank account: eat the food that’s already in the fridge

Bank account: you don’t need a cab, it’s only three blocks

You: I guess we’ll never know

Bank account: seriously?”

With this tweet, Chase committed the finance industry’s worst digital marketing blunder of the year to date, according to analytics firm Talkwalker. 

“In a 24-hour period, Chase was the subject of more than 3,000 critical mentions from influential figures including Elizabeth Warren and members of the public,” the so-called “social-listening” company said in a report. “Chase quickly learned that people don’t like being told they are in financial straits due to buying coffee and not eating meals at home. This is especially the case when the advice comes from a bank that received bailout money.” 

A number of viral critiques made this point, including one from left-leaning activist Adam Best. “Wells Fargo: We’re the most hated big bank and it’s not even close. Chase Bank: Hold my bailout,” Best commented, along with a screenshot of the ill-fated coffee missive. 

[II Deep Dive: Confessions of a Content Marketer]

Chase deleted its April 29 tweet amid backlash and went into crisis communication mode. Its apology came via Twitter. 

This week, UBS put itself in hot water using the same social media platform. UBS went after a Financial Times  journalist for “embarrassing reporting” related to its second-quarter financial results, and accused him of “agenda journalism.” 

Financial institutions rarely attack reporters and news outlets publicly, preferring to exert power behind closed doors and via legal threats. 

UBS’s unusual break with this norm drew criticism. “Not really a good look,” replied the European Central Bank’s head of media relations, who advised against “massive corporate/institutional” accounts going after personal accounts. 

UBS has more than 400,000 Twitter followers. By Friday, it had deleted the tweet.

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