Gear Seven/Arc Studios/Shift
I Like Music
Contemplative Reptile
  • International Edition
  • USA Edition
  • UK Edition
  • Australian Edition
  • Canadian Edition
  • Irish Edition
  • German Edition
  • French Edition
  • Singapore Edition
  • Spanish edition
  • Polish edition
  • Indian Edition
  • Middle East edition
  • South African Edition

Why Questrade Encouraged Canadians to Dream the Impossible Dream


No Fixed Address’ creative director, Tim Kavander and Questrade’s Stella Ladizhinsky discuss encouraging millennials to believe in a financially secure future, writes LBB’s Josh Neufeldt

Why Questrade Encouraged Canadians to Dream the Impossible Dream

Financially-speaking, many might agree that this isn’t the happiest of times. Cost of living is rising. Interest rates are skyrocketing. And in Canada, citizens face the looming threat of a recession. It’s the grim reality 2023 faces, and one which, understandably, makes concepts like owning a home, sending a child to school, or even the possibility of retiring feel like out of reach dreams for many millennials. 

For Questrade, this is an unacceptable future. As Canada’s fastest growing online brokerage, and a firm believer in disrupting the traditional investing options with major banks, launching a campaign intended to empower the younger generation to take control of their financial future became high priority. Working alongside long-standing agency of record, No Fixed Address, the two marked an evolution in the brand’s tone - moving beyond purely challenging traditional financial institutions - with the release of their 60-second spot. Launched ahead of the RSP season, the ad is set to a modern reaction of ‘The Impossible Dream’, and leans into emotional provocation, prompting Canadians to ‘Take Hold of Tomorrow’ by securing their financial future today. 

To learn more, LBB’s Josh Neufeldt sat down with No Fixed Address creative director, Tim Kavander, and Questrade director, brand & marketing strategy Stella Ladizhinsky, to discuss why this campaign was needed, finding the right song, and why now was the perfect time for Questrade to evolve its tone. 

LBB> What was the brief, and what immediate ideas came to mind?

Stella> We’ve been working with NFA for over five years now, and our partnership has created a strong, consistent brand for Questrade. We’ve always taken a confident, challenger position relative to the traditional banking options, delivering a message of lower fees for better returns, and placing the consumer at the centre (where previously, they might have felt like their interests were taking a backseat to those of their bank). To this end, we’ve always tried to pull back the curtain and show consumers the way things really are. This campaign is really no different.

This year’s ask was to ensure we demonstrate our awareness of how people are feeling, especially in the current financial landscape, and to show them that we are there to help them invest smarter - really allowing users to take control of their finances by providing a viable alternative with different investing options.

Tim> Questrade has always been a challenger to traditional, old school investing that one sees with the big banks. In doing so, we’ve always tried to shed light on the fact that there is a better way. This brief was in keeping with that thought, and, in fact, it was quite simple: let people know that those dreams that somehow feel out of reach - home ownership, affording to start a family, or even putting kids through school - are possible, if they take control of their financial futures with Questrade. Optimism and empowerment were our mantras.

LBB> While much of the NFA/Questrade work has reflected the theme of Questrade as disruptors, this campaign was intended to represent an evolution in the brand’s tone. What made now the right time for this change?

Stella> Our brand has seen slight evolutions over the past few years, but we’ve consistently worked to create a strong, recognisable brand that, at its core, has always been positioned as a true challenger to the traditional investing options with the big banks. Continuing with the successful approach of the past was certainly an option, but to truly stand apart, get noticed and create the kind of awareness and interest we think the brand deserves, it was time to do something bold and fresh. 

LBB> This campaign acknowledges the fact that many Canadians feel like their financial dreams are out of their grasp. What was your research process like to achieve this insight, what were the key takeaways, and how did they factor into the creative process? 

Tim> There is no shortage of data revealing the mounting challenges that millennials face financially; everything from rising inflation to stagnant wages and mounting debt. The unsurprising result of our research was that over 80% [of millennials] are worried about their financial situation and outlook on their future. 

With this in mind, our qualitative research gathered a more nuanced understanding of their mindset to inform the creative strategy. So, our direction for the creative was twofold. First, we wanted to demonstrate that Questrade truly understands Canadian millennials and their financial concerns. And second, we wanted to continue to challenge the complacency that comes with just handing over your money to a bank - having them invest it in high fee mutual funds, and hoping for the best. By doing this, we wanted to really challenge their assumptions that their dreams were impossible to attain, and let them know, in no uncertain terms, that they can reach for stars, but to do so, they need a better game plan. And that’s where Questrade comes in. As the campaign unfolds, we start to elaborate on one very key point of distinction between Questrade and the banks: ‘we don’t just give you the tools and the analysis to invest on your own, we teach you how to use those tools’. There’s a huge difference there. 

Stella> Well, research was clearly pointing out that millennials in particular were feeling that previous generations had opportunities to accumulate wealth that they just don’t have these days. Many felt home ownership, for example, was out of the question, or that getting married and having kids were desires that needed to be put on hold. To this end, we used quantitative research to uncover these concerns in detail. We then also used qualitative research to ensure we got the message right at the creative development stage. 

The real key here was to be authentic. The millennial target we were talking with was telling us that so much of the financial category just didn’t address them - they see right through false promises and really just want to be acknowledged rather than sold to. They just weren’t seeing themselves in the majority of financial communications out there. 

LBB> Building on this, why, in 2023, are so many Canadians feeling the struggle of trying to secure a stable financial future? 

Stella> There’s a combination of economic forces putting pressure on Canadians and fuelling anxiety about their financial future. The rising cost of living and the impact of inflation has Canadian workers worried their income won’t be able to keep up. And systemically, as traditional avenues of building wealth such as pensions all but disappear, a majority of Canadians are feeling they won’t have enough money to retire. These economic pressures, among many other factors, like growing personal debts and rising interest rates, have resulted in millennials being the first generation to be worse off economically than their parents. As such, it’s really no surprise that Canadians are feeling financial unease and lack of financial confidence. 

LBB> The spot features a number of scenarios in which Canadians lament a lack of financial stability. What was the writing process like for these scenarios, as well as the spot as a whole? 

Tim> We were tough on ourselves when it came to making sure that those scenarios were real; a man experiencing sticker shock just trying to afford groceries; a woman working late at night wondering if this is really the life she imagined; or a man working two jobs, as so many millennials do or have done in order to get ahead. All of it is real. Even the scene where a young woman has found a way to live as a ‘digital nomad’, working somewhere in Italy - a life that is attainable for those making smart decisions with their money. We’ve always been a brand that tells it like it is, and this work is just an illustration of a different truth.

LBB> A whole host of locations can be seen in the spot - and in particular, the closing shot is quite memorable. Where did you shoot, and what made these locations perfect for the campaign? 

Tim> We shot everything in not-so-sunny Vancouver. Questrade is a proudly Canadian company, and we wanted to keep those production dollars here at home - employing Canadian crews and talent as much as possible. That closing shot involved a rather large crane holding a green screen the size of a small nation, and some fantastic post work from our friends at Wingman. We never saw the Amalfi coast, but you’d never know it! 

LBB> The acting of the protagonists is very heartfelt. What was casting like, and how did you find the right people for the task? 

Tim> We looked at a ton of actors to finally land our cast. It was a matter of finding people who could play it honestly and understand the truth they were trying to convey - that we all feel a little anxious and beat down by the events of the past few years. But, they also needed to be able to turn the corner and convey that feeling of hope, of overcoming, and the resilience you experience when you take hold of your finances and start to live the life you deserve. ‘Take hold of tomorrow’ is the campaign line and punctuating mark to that thought.

LBB> Who directed the spot, and what was the shooting experience like? 

Tim> A directing team known as Mindcastle. They’re a couple who started in still photography, and have, over the years, built an incredibly strong film reel filled with quiet, voyeuristic shooting - fly on the wall stuff - that really captures the truth in any scene. Their work is gorgeous, feels natural and really captures human emotions. 

Beyond that, shooting with Mindcastle went smoothly, which it tends to do when you’re all on the same page. Directors, clients and agency were all reading off the same song sheet, and we created a ton of content in the two to three days of shooting.

LBB> Another memorable element of the spot is the recreated version of ‘The Impossible Dream’. How did you come to this song choice, and why was this the best choice for the job? 

Tim> It was probably Elvis’ version that caught our attention, but Frank also had a great version. With that out of the way, the song is actually from the Broadway musical ‘Man of La Mancha’. Seeing as it’s from the '60s, however, we wanted to reimagine it and give it new life. The lyrics and the mood just so perfectly captured how the target audience was feeling, but it also delivers the message of optimism and perseverance as the song builds and grows. 

LBB> What challenges have you faced during this project? How did you overcome them? 

Tim> The biggest challenge we faced was probably getting the music rights for ‘The Impossible Dream’. It was such a perfect fit that we really had to make that happen. Luckily, our friends at Grayson Music relentlessly pursued the publishers to secure the rights, which never happens quickly. And so, while that was happening, we were hustling in the background with alternative options. But in the end, once the publishers heard our demo, they came onboard and were thrilled with what we’d done. 

Stella> While we may not have the infrastructure of some of the largest players in the financial market, getting an entire organisation that is riding waves of continual success to consider a slight departure from what’s been working is no simple task. Making sure key stakeholders were well-appraised and onside with the insights and the eventual creative platform was key. It required a lot more discussion, disclosure and transparency from the marketing team to ensure everyone was holding hands and feeling confident about the choices we were making. 

LBB> How have people responded to this campaign? 

Tim> It’s been extremely positive. The brand is well known for the work we’ve done in the past, and people have been reacting positively to this shift in direction. And the song? Everyone just wants to know where they can get the tune and who’s singing on that track. It’s Rachel Park, by the way. She’s amazing!

Stella> The response has been incredible. Everyone here at Questrade has always been proud of everything we’ve accomplished, and this is just the next chapter in a success story that we’re all excited to be a part of. It’s too early to tell, but if the early response we’ve been seeing is any indication, we’re pretty positive.

LBB> What lessons did you learn from the making of this campaign?

Tim> We know how people are feeling about the world they live in at the moment: it’s been an unsettling time. From this, if there is something we learned, it’s that people really want to be acknowledged - to be heard. Before you can help them help themselves, you need to demonstrate that you get them, and that you see the world as they do; you understand and you’re going to try and help them do something about it. 

Stella> Nothing’s ever set in stone! We’ve been growing and the brand has been getting stronger. It would be easy to just continue down a path of least resistance, but that’s really not how we work: not from an operations perspective and not a marketing comms perspective. So much has changed in the past few years - the times have changed might be the biggest understatement I could make - but that is why it was so important to take the learnings we were getting and see how they might influence our messaging. And it certainly did!

While financial services can be seen from the outside as big, slow and process-driven, the reality is far different when you’re a challenger brand. Approaching everything we’ve done (and continue to do), from strategy to creative, through the lens of flexibility and adaptability has allowed us to get work into the market that not only connects with Canadians, but continues to set Questrade apart from the competition.


view more - Behind the Work
Sign up to our newsletters and stay up to date with the best work and breaking ad news from around the world.
No Fixed Address, Mon, 23 Jan 2023 17:34:11 GMT