Marcus Mocks Traditional Banks in New Advertising Campaign

Ads for Goldman Sachs' direct bank stress genuine benefits like $0 fee loans and higher rates on deposits instead of traditional banking amenities like free lobby coffee and pens.

Marcus by Goldman Sachs has started its biggest marketing campaign yet, using videos featuring actress Rosamund Pike sassing traditional banks for giving away cheap free pens and poor free coffee “that tastes like it was brewed by a bank — because it was.”

Pike, who has appeared in everything from English period films to James Bond and a Bond spoof, is a far cry from the conservative black and white photos of Marcus Goldman, the bespectacled bearded old investment banker who founded Marcus’ parent company.

Pike plays “M” (for Money, no connection to James Bond’s longtime spy chief), the new Marcus spokesperson who in campaign videos, social media and other channels will represent the digital bank. Marcus is actually just a brand name, introduced in 2016. The underlying institution, Goldman Sachs Bank U.S.A, originated in 1990 as an uninsured trust company.

The tagline for the program is “You can money.”

The campaign will be concentrating initially on videos and other media for general promotion of its high-yield savings and personal loan services. Later in 2021 Marcus plans to introduce its long-expected checking account that will also be promoted. Marcus-branded online investment services will also be promoted by M later in the year. (Update: The spot below debuted in late August and seems a swipe at investment apps as much as it does one against banks.) The campaign will continue into 2022.

“‘M’ is an approachable character who speaks to our audience in a new way that is intelligent and relatable,” Dustin Cohn, Head of Brand and Marketing at Goldman Sachs Asset Management and Consumer, told The Financial Brand. “She helps to challenge consumers to think of what they really want from their banking partner.”

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Cohn says the character, introduced in 2020, is still new to the bank. “We’re always looking for new ways, such as this campaign, to evolve the character and continue to reflect the evolving Marcus brand, to get consumers excited about the next iteration.”

Cohn would not disclose specific goals or dollar figures but said it was the largest campaign to date and was a build up to the introduction of Marcus checking accounts. The intention, he explains, is that checking accounts will complete the basic legs of the consumer bank.

“With our new checking product in the pipeline, Marcus is on its way to becoming consumers’ one-stop-shop for their finances. So we want to solidify and expand our relationships with consumers through our marketing strategy.”

— Dustin Cohn, Marcus by Goldman Sachs

As of the latest call reports, at the end of March 2021 Marcus had deposits of $225.8 billion, mostly interest-bearing. This represented an increase of 25% over the year-earlier figure. Net loans came to $96.8 billion, down 6.5% from the year earlier. This reflects management’s decision to slow down initially rapid growth in loans. Besides direct lending through its own channels, Marcus makes certain Amazon seller business loans and is the banking partner for the Apple Card. The bank has total assets of $288.6 billion, as of March 31, 2021.

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