Customer Expo 2018 featured a presentation from two representatives of Ally Financial, Brian Roach, Marketing Director of Strategic Initiatives, and Kristen Kille, Marketing Manager. Their talk was focused on their company’s approach to brand messaging and communication.
Roach and Kille began by showing a video of Ally consumers—real people—who were asked to share their personal savings goals and what “the value of money” meant to them. Ally and partnered charities then contributed money toward those savings goals. For Pam, the first subject in the video, the value of money meant “owning her first home, so her family always has a place to come home to.” Pam’s story and the stories of others were moving and reflected Ally’s brand message of “money-mindfulness.”
It wasn’t the sort of promotion one is likely to expect from a bank. “As a small online bank that competes with Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and their billion-dollar marketing budgets,” said Roach, “we have to be very creative in our marketing to stand out.”
The brand’s promotion that ran during Super Bowl LII was one such stand-out. “For a company that preaches money-mindfulness, spending millions of dollars on a Super Bowl ad didn’t quite make sense,” said Roach. “Instead, we decided to hijack the Super Bowl.”
Ally created an augmented reality game that helped customers save. The catch was that the game only worked during Super Bowl LII’s commercial breaks. Roach said that “all you had to do was tell us your savings goal, why it was important to you, then play the game during the commercial breaks of the Super Bowl and submit your high score for a chance to make your savings goal a reality.”
The brand referred to the event and game as “the Ally Big Save.” Kille said, “To tell our story, we created a micro-site that served as the main hub for the Ally Big Save. It showcased the savings stories that inspired us, the app that can download, and also a countdown clock that created excitement.” This way, the company was able to make the most of its campaign.
The company saw a total of 69,000 app downloads in four days, ranking second in the Google Play Store and fourth in Apple’s app store. Over 600,000 games were played in total, with an average of 24,000 games played per commercial break. According to Kille, “Brand favorability grew from 39 percent to 70 among customers who already knew Ally before seeing the ads.” She also stated that the brand “won the first-ever Twitter Brand Goal Interception award for driving most social engagement for a brand without buying a TV spot during the big game.”
Ally did not stop there, however. The brand continued to collaborate with the contest’s winners, bringing them in as brand advocates in various additional promotions. Subsequently, the bank saw an unprecedented number of deposits in its first quarter.

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