By Hannah Bowler | Senior Reporter

September 22, 2023 | 7 min read

The Financial Conduct Authority has taken the gold spot (the last commercial message before the main feature) at cinemas showing the GameStop dramedy, warning inexperienced investors about socially hyped stocks.

As part of the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) new marketing strategy to reach younger, more inexperienced investors, it has created a bespoke advert to trail the movie Dumb Money, which was released earlier this week

The film chronicles the 2021 GameStop short squeeze, where Reddit users took on Wall Street and millions of ordinary people bought shares in the declining video game store.

Emma Stranack, head of consumer engagement, content and channels at the FCA, says the film is spot-on for the regulator’s target audience and that “the opportunity was too good to miss.”

She tells us: “The GameStop episode is a really strong example of speculative investment driven by hype, with a lot of inexperienced investors suffering painful losses. This specific episode really is perfectly aligned with our less experienced investors and the potential risk that they are getting swept up in hype without understanding the risks.”

Stranack shares that, over the ‘Barbenheimer’ weekend, a few people at the FCA saw trailers for Dumb Money and spotted an opportunity, coming to the conclusion that it was perfect for the target audience. She says it was a “let’s get on the phone immediately and see what we can do” moment.

The FCA has taken the gold spot, which comes after the other ads and the trailers, so the final commercial before the film. The advert starts with a blank screen and a voiceover pitching a new investment opportunity, then as that hype builds you start to see the facade slip and find out it’s just someone posting in an online forum.

“We want to generate an experience that the film might have already started – and it is part of the film.”

The ad will run for five weeks at cinema chains Odeon, View, Cineworld and Pearl and Dean. The minute-long spot is supported by geo-targeting, where cinema-goers who are searching for investment will get served an out-of-home ads in the foyer. Manning Gottlieb and OmniGov handled the media buy.

“The cinemas loved it because there’s such a natural synergy between the target audience we’re trying to reach and the people who are most likely to be watching the ad. Given the perfect alignment, it was quite a straightforward buy in the end.”

The Dumb Money placement is part of the regulator’s long-term InvestSmart campaign, which is aimed at younger investors. The FCA saw a surge in investing during the pandemic lockdowns as people had more disposable income and were stuck at home. This all led to a shifting audience of “far more new and inexperienced investors than ever before, partly driven by this opportunity and the opportunity that all these online platforms provide,” Stranack says

Suggested newsletters for you

Daily Briefing


Catch up on the most important stories of the day, curated by our editorial team.

Ads of the Week


See the best ads of the last week - all in one place.

Media Agency Briefing


Our media editor explores the biggest media buys and the trends rocking the sector.

FCA data revealed that 45% of these less experienced investors didn’t know that losing money was a risk at all and that 59% would be unable to afford a loss. “A lot of them are very emotionally driven and the FCA calls the segment ‘having a go,’ so led by gut instinct, often driven by social media influencing and stories in the media, getting caught up in that hype and not really thinking before investing.”

In a bid to meet these investors in the places and spaces they are, the FCA started advertising on TikTok and Reddit and now works with ‘finfluencers’ to spread the word.

“We do need to adapt quite frequently to make sure we’re keeping our information and our news relevant to that audience. We’re trying to reach them in places where they are rather than expecting them to come to us. I don’t think they would naturally come directly to the regulator.”

The strategy shift is seeing some positive early results and the FCA is seeing investors doing more research and getting insight from more credible sources, plus there has been a traffic boost to the FCA site.

Findings from the FCA’s latest tracking survey after the campaign launched revealed that 24% of consumers say they would be more careful by doing research to reduce the chances of them losing money in high-risk investments. They are also 24% more likely to look to learn about investing from reputable information sources and it is 15% more likely that one of these sources would be the FCA website.

Stranack says her team has the full support of the C-suite when it comes to its marketing investments. “They’re really up for it and really supportive of marketing as a regulatory tool, helping empower consumers so they don’t lose out but can enjoy investing. We’re not sitting still as a regulator; we’re keeping our finger on the pulse and that is the same for the communications and the marketing team.”

Marketing Brand Strategy Media Planning and Buying

More from Marketing

View all