UBS cuts 10% of Vice and Vanity Fair content budget to push into social marketing, admitting it got the mix wrong

UBS Unlimited

UBS may have spent the last two years fine-tuning its content creation arm Unlimited with partners Vice and Vanity Fair, but it has admitted this was at the expense of “good old-fashioned marketing” prompting it to reallocate budgets into more direct channels.

The financial services company found itself investing "too much in content creation" and not enough into making sure people saw it, forcing it to slice 10% off the contracts with its editorial partners to pump into actually marketing the content it had spent so much to make.

“Everybody believes the content they produce is going to change the world of everyone. They believe it is going to be groundbreaking, changing world initiatives," said Thierry Campet, global head of marketing communications at UBS Wealth Management, speaking at Mobile Marketing Summit yesterday (7 July).

"The truth is, we believed it as well, but if you don't push your content in the good old fashioned way - and that’s not TV anymore but paid social media marketing - if you don't push it they won't see it. That was a huge learning for us - we really thought the content would sell on its own and it didn't."

Campet was brought into UBS in 2015to shake up the marketing output from simply pushing products to establishing brand affinity. He describes this job at a more than 150-year old brand as "a daily fight".

"It is difficult for a bank to stop talking about what it knows, especially when they have been doing it for 150 years. You have to tell them, they are not interested. Speak about what wakes them up in the morning, and it is not you," he said.

Enter Unlimited, the marketing boss' ploy to establish UBS as a brand with a purpose. But a key issue UBS faces is measuring the success of its marketing initiatives when it takes a minimum of two years to convert a consumer from one bank to another, ruling out immediate results.

With this in mind, Campet said he is trying to measure the success in "many ways", given he can't rely on traffic converting into customers as first planned. He confessed that Unlimited is for now acting solely as a form of brand advertising - a 30-second ad in the shape of a website - rather than something that actively drives business results.

“I thought people would read Unlimited and go to UBS and sign up,” he said. “But Unlimited plays a little bit of a role of TV ad - I don't know how much traffic it will generate the day after, but my objective as a KPI is to make people come and then come back.”

“Right now my KPI is to have as much traffic as possible, then I will figure out how to get them to UBS,” he adds.

Despite its mission to drive brand affinity, UBS branding in Unlimited is “subtle”. When Vice and Vanity Fair publish the funded content on their own platforms and social media channels, the signpost ‘Powered By UBS’ is used, an admittedly discreet disclaimer “because the purpose of Unlimited is to make the content of UBS known as opposed to the brand UBS”, Campet said.

“I believe people will engage with us through our content rather than through our name,” he added. Campet hopes the more content people read, the more they associate that content with its wider purpose of the bank.

“The more money you have the less interested you are in talking about money,” Campet said. “As a consequence we engaged too many times in conversations with potential prospects about money, where people are really interested in your purpose. Over the last few months we have realised it hugely revolved around three things: families, business, and purpose.”

“Unlimited was created with that in mind - how can you engage a conversation with very wealthy people without ever talking about finance,” he added.

Purpose is the driver of Unlimited’s editorial agenda. It has two editorial lines; ‘Does wealth make us rich anymore?’ and ‘Is it a matter of time?’. The notion of living past the age of 100 is no longer a pipe dream with the advancement of technology, but the second question asks whether there is point in having extra years if those years aren’t used to serve a purpose.

“Can I build something that 300 years later will still be there and I will be remembered for?” Campet said.

The marketing head’s focus over the next two to three years lies in “funneling an editorial strategy”, having “completely underestimated the impact of consistent editorial agenda”.

“We are a big bank, everyone loves to think that what is being produced is going to break the house. The truth is - no one piece will because it is coming from all over,” he said. “My objective is… Having people from varying horizons to work together in their own way but following a thread which is common in all of them.”

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Jessica Goodfellow

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