Industry group launches latest TV commercial to build CFP brand

Part of four-year, $40 million campaign.

Feb 3, 2014 @ 1:41 pm

By Mark Schoeff Jr.

It came one day after the Super Bowl advertising blitz, but the CFP Board hopes that a “reality” TV spot it launched Monday will help convince consumers to turn to a certified financial planner for advice.

The Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. unveiled an ad that shows average investors talking to a clean-cut investment adviser. He then reveals that he's actually a club DJ whose dreadlocks were shorn so that he could pose as a buttoned-down financial professional.

“I have no financial experience at all,” says the man, who also is an actor. He then briefly dances in front of his bewildered clients. The segment concludes with a voice over saying, “If they're not a CFP pro, you just don't know. Work with the highest standard.”

The ad is the latest installment in the CFP Board's $40 million public awareness campaign.

“It is fun, it is edgy, it is creative,” CFP Board chairman V. Raymond Ferrara said during a webinar on Monday.

The CFP Board set up a fake investment advisory firm and had real potential investors come in for a meeting with the ersatz adviser.

“It is frightening that these people were fooled by this guy, who was good but not great,” CFP Board chief executive Kevin Keller said. “The general public really was caught off guard.”

The TV ad will run on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, ESPN, BBC America, AMC and other networks through the tax season. The CFP Board also will advertise on NPR as well as on websites, online search engines and in print. CFP mark holders will be able to download material for their own use as well.

The CFP Board will spend $10 million this year on the campaign. It has been funded by a $145 annual increase in the CFP renewal fee. Mr. Keller said that the board has no plans to raise the fees “at this time.”

The target audience is people with $100,000 to $1 million in investible assets who are between the ages of 35 and 64.

The CFP Board asserts that its public awareness campaign has succeeded so far. It has seen increases in the number of people surveyed who mention the CFP mark first when asked to name financial designations as well as an increase in those who can name CFP without being prompted. Both categories, known as “top of mind” and “unaided awareness,” polled below 25% before the CFP Board began advertising in 2011.

“We’ve had a 7% increase in ‘top of mind’ and overall a 4% increase in the unaided awareness, which, by the way, was the objective for the four-year campaign,” Mr. Keller said.

The organization would not release specific numbers for the increase in CFP name identification.

Previous CFP ads have focused on ethics, planning and the comprehensive evaluations of CFP mark holders. The newest ads emphasize a broader overall theme of the quality that investors can get from a CFP.

“Our media strategy this year is to amplify that 'highest standard' positioning,” Mr. Crowder said.

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