CFP Board swings for fences with World Series ads

Will the significant expense for the large audience result in a home run or a strike out for its branding campaign?

Nov 3, 2016 @ 1:44 pm

By Mark Schoeff Jr.

The Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians were not the only ones swinging for the fences in Game 7 of the World Series Wednesday night — so was the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc.

The Fox telecast, the highest-rated baseball game since 2001, included three ads sponsored by the CFP Board designed to raise awareness about the designation among investors.

The organization ran two 30-second and one 15-second spots of the “DJ” ad that features a former nightclub DJ who makes himself over to pose as a financial adviser.

The CFP Board had not advertised during the previous six games, but learned that the baseball viewers fit the demographic it covets: investors who have $100,000 to $1 million in assets and households that earn more than $125,000 annually.

“It was a target-rich environment,” said Kevin Keller, CFP Board chief executive. “We have to be hyper-efficient with our media buy. We think it was a big win.”

But it wasn't cheap to go hunting for viewers. World Series ads cost approximately $500,000 for a 30-secton spot, according to published reports.

Mr. Keller said the CFP Board got a much better price because it has aired ads on Fox over the course of its campaign.

“We were able to negotiate, because of our relationship with Fox, a rate that's less than half the widely reported rate,” Mr. Keller said.

The CFP Board said it did not have immediate results of the ads' effect on traffic to the website promoted in the commercial.

“We're compiling that data,” said CFP Board spokesman Dan Drummond.

From the standpoint of audience size, overnight estimates show that the thrilling Game 7 — which went into extra innings before the Cubs won, 8-7, to capture their first World Series in more than a century — drew a 25.2 rating, according to the Washington Post.

That means that 25% of U.S. households were tuned into the broadcast, which could translate to about 40 million viewers.

The World Series ads were the latest iteration of a six-year campaign that spans TV, radio, social media and online advertising. It portrays CFPs as advisers who look out for the best interests of their clients.

The CFP Board spent approximately $10 million annually in the first five years of the campaign, raising the funds from a $12 monthly increase in fees. The CFP annual fee is $325, of which $145 goes to the awareness initiative.

For this sixth year, spending is likely to increase to $11 million due to the growth in the number of CFPs, who total about 75,660 domestically.

The CFP Board has continued to renew the campaign because raising the visibility of the mark is a priority for CFPs, according to Mr. Keller.

“This campaign and the opportunistic purchase yesterday are all in line with the priorities of our certificant stakeholders,” he said.

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