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Make Ghosting a Thing of the Past

Make Ghosting a Thing of the Past

Michael Carnevale

Michael Carnevale

October 1, 2018

Night traders rejoice.

"Ironically, in Southeast Asia, a day trader actually has to become a night trader."

If you’re a financial trader in Asia, that means you don’t work the typical 9 to 5. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, and that takes a toll on your social life. Andrew Hook, Chief Creative Officer at Havas Singapore, gives us a behind-the-scenes look into their mockumentary-style campaign for TD Ameritrade.

 

There’s a lot of excitement around this new creative work for TD Ameritrade in Singapore and Hong Kong. What’s the idea behind the campaign?

24/5 trading is a huge breakthrough in the world of securities trading. It puts traders firmly back in control of when and how they want to trade. However, it means something very different in Asia than it does the US.

Currently in Singapore and Hong Kong, the 12-hour time difference means dedicated traders need to be active on the markets at night, every night—which obviously takes a huge toll on one’s family and social life.

As a result, traders are commonly known to ghost on friends or family—that is, exit early from social engagements, or not even show up at all. Nighttime activities are regularly compromised in order to make the opening bell. Among the local trading community, this is a well-known and unfortunate byproduct of their passion.

Thankfully, 24/5 trading is the solution they’ve been waiting for.

Is 24/5 trading in Asia different from 24/5 trading in the US?

Yes. While the technical side of it works the same, the implications for traders are very different. It all comes down to time zones.

Singapore and Hong Kong are 12 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. That means that when Wall Street opens for business in the morning, it’s actually 9:30 p.m. in Singapore and Hong Kong. You will often hear the term “day trader,” meaning someone who trades every day as a full-time job. Ironically, in Southeast Asia, a day trader actually has to become a night trader.

If you are dedicated to the task, you need to be online and active during live trading hours, essentially being on standby for the opening bell at 9:30 p.m., and then tracking the market until close at 3:30 a.m. Imagine doing that Monday to Friday.

How did the 12-hour time difference between the East Coast of the United States and Hong Kong impact the approach for this campaign?

Honestly, it took us a little while to get our heads around it. When we received the initial brief, we had a sneak peek at the fantastic work being produced out of Havas New York for the US launch. In the US, the strategy was, of course, focused on trading all night long. So at first, we were also pretty keen to sign up Lionel Richie for our campaign.

But then we realized we had to flip the strategy on its head, and look at it through the lens of our own local context. That helped us generate a new idea that would be very specific to an Asian audience.

"The script went through a few iterations while we were trying to nail down the tonality, sequencing, and layering of the messaging."

 

What insights did the team use to come up with the ghosting idea?

Early on, we explored a few different routes with the client at a very broad level.

After feedback from the US, Singapore, and Hong Kong, it was agreed that the ghosting proposition was the most insightful and would strike the strongest chord within the local community.

We’re lucky that many in the TD Ameritrade team are highly experienced traders themselves, so they could provide an effective sounding board, and confirm that our message would hit the right notes. We didn’t want to dwell on the technical details of how it all worked. Instead, we wanted to reveal a truth about how trading affects people on a human level—and then demonstrate how our new product could help.

This isn’t your typical 60-second spot that airs in the US or Europe—it’s a funny, five-minute mockumentary-style video. Why this format and use of humor?

To be candid, it wasn’t really a direct line from concept to final execution. We had a sense of a long-form piece from the beginning, and we knew we wanted the humor to be in the land of mockumentary, awkward realism (à la The Office). But the exact expression was pretty loose to begin with.

The script went through a few iterations while we were trying to nail down the tonality, sequencing, and layering of the messaging. Funnily enough, the reporter character never appeared in the original draft. But as we worked through it, we realized he could become the central hinge that would glue it all together. The story kind of came alive when we got him talking to camera and brought in the news-style title graphics and so on.

This spot aired, uninterrupted, on Bloomberg in Asia. How did that choice of platform impact the storytelling in this video?

The whole thrust of our story was that 24/5 trading was going to be some really big news in the trading community. So in that case, why not literally make it news.

We decided to embed our message inside one of the most trusted sources of financial news and insight: Bloomberg TV. Given that our story was parodying all the tropes of news reporting, this channel would be the perfect context.

The centerpiece of the campaign is our five-minute broadcast spot on Bloomberg. The long-form film has also been edited into multiple cut-downs, with these being deployed across the Bloomberg website in various formats. We also have print, digital, outdoor, and native content filling out the campaign.

Were there any notable challenges on production?

We knew we needed to move fast, since the key for us was coverage of a wide variety of scenes. The director pushed to shoot in both Hong Kong and Singapore, as each city has a very different aesthetic. That helped lift the production value and give us more authenticity.

We worked with a very lightweight crew, in the manner of an editorial production. We also engaged an experienced journalistic director of photography who could shoot quickly and fluidly in the appropriate style.

The most critical element was the casting, especially for the reporter character. We were incredibly lucky to find a genuine newscaster who could take on the lead role. We knew this role would be a difficult one for any actor to act. News reporters have very specific body language and mannerisms, and a unique cadence in how they speak. It would have taken too much time and energy for an actor to get into character in each scene. A more effective approach was to find someone who could inhabit the skin of the character without really having to think about it.

What’s been the reaction so far?

The campaign has only been live for a short time, but so far the reaction has been pretty positive overall.

"Ironically, in Southeast Asia, a day trader actually has to become a night trader."

If you’re a financial trader in Asia, that means you don’t work the typical 9 to 5. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, and that takes a toll on your social life. Andrew Hook, Chief Creative Officer at Havas Singapore, gives us a behind-the-scenes look into their mockumentary-style campaign for TD Ameritrade.

 

There’s a lot of excitement around this new creative work for TD Ameritrade in Singapore and Hong Kong. What’s the idea behind the campaign?

24/5 trading is a huge breakthrough in the world of securities trading. It puts traders firmly back in control of when and how they want to trade. However, it means something very different in Asia than it does the US.

Currently in Singapore and Hong Kong, the 12-hour time difference means dedicated traders need to be active on the markets at night, every night—which obviously takes a huge toll on one’s family and social life.

As a result, traders are commonly known to ghost on friends or family—that is, exit early from social engagements, or not even show up at all. Nighttime activities are regularly compromised in order to make the opening bell. Among the local trading community, this is a well-known and unfortunate byproduct of their passion.

Thankfully, 24/5 trading is the solution they’ve been waiting for.

Is 24/5 trading in Asia different from 24/5 trading in the US?

Yes. While the technical side of it works the same, the implications for traders are very different. It all comes down to time zones.

Singapore and Hong Kong are 12 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. That means that when Wall Street opens for business in the morning, it’s actually 9:30 p.m. in Singapore and Hong Kong. You will often hear the term “day trader,” meaning someone who trades every day as a full-time job. Ironically, in Southeast Asia, a day trader actually has to become a night trader.

If you are dedicated to the task, you need to be online and active during live trading hours, essentially being on standby for the opening bell at 9:30 p.m., and then tracking the market until close at 3:30 a.m. Imagine doing that Monday to Friday.

How did the 12-hour time difference between the East Coast of the United States and Hong Kong impact the approach for this campaign?

Honestly, it took us a little while to get our heads around it. When we received the initial brief, we had a sneak peek at the fantastic work being produced out of Havas New York for the US launch. In the US, the strategy was, of course, focused on trading all night long. So at first, we were also pretty keen to sign up Lionel Richie for our campaign.

But then we realized we had to flip the strategy on its head, and look at it through the lens of our own local context. That helped us generate a new idea that would be very specific to an Asian audience.

"The script went through a few iterations while we were trying to nail down the tonality, sequencing, and layering of the messaging."

 

What insights did the team use to come up with the ghosting idea?

Early on, we explored a few different routes with the client at a very broad level.

After feedback from the US, Singapore, and Hong Kong, it was agreed that the ghosting proposition was the most insightful and would strike the strongest chord within the local community.

We’re lucky that many in the TD Ameritrade team are highly experienced traders themselves, so they could provide an effective sounding board, and confirm that our message would hit the right notes. We didn’t want to dwell on the technical details of how it all worked. Instead, we wanted to reveal a truth about how trading affects people on a human level—and then demonstrate how our new product could help.

This isn’t your typical 60-second spot that airs in the US or Europe—it’s a funny, five-minute mockumentary-style video. Why this format and use of humor?

To be candid, it wasn’t really a direct line from concept to final execution. We had a sense of a long-form piece from the beginning, and we knew we wanted the humor to be in the land of mockumentary, awkward realism (à la The Office). But the exact expression was pretty loose to begin with.

The script went through a few iterations while we were trying to nail down the tonality, sequencing, and layering of the messaging. Funnily enough, the reporter character never appeared in the original draft. But as we worked through it, we realized he could become the central hinge that would glue it all together. The story kind of came alive when we got him talking to camera and brought in the news-style title graphics and so on.

This spot aired, uninterrupted, on Bloomberg in Asia. How did that choice of platform impact the storytelling in this video?

The whole thrust of our story was that 24/5 trading was going to be some really big news in the trading community. So in that case, why not literally make it news.

We decided to embed our message inside one of the most trusted sources of financial news and insight: Bloomberg TV. Given that our story was parodying all the tropes of news reporting, this channel would be the perfect context.

The centerpiece of the campaign is our five-minute broadcast spot on Bloomberg. The long-form film has also been edited into multiple cut-downs, with these being deployed across the Bloomberg website in various formats. We also have print, digital, outdoor, and native content filling out the campaign.

Were there any notable challenges on production?

We knew we needed to move fast, since the key for us was coverage of a wide variety of scenes. The director pushed to shoot in both Hong Kong and Singapore, as each city has a very different aesthetic. That helped lift the production value and give us more authenticity.

We worked with a very lightweight crew, in the manner of an editorial production. We also engaged an experienced journalistic director of photography who could shoot quickly and fluidly in the appropriate style.

The most critical element was the casting, especially for the reporter character. We were incredibly lucky to find a genuine newscaster who could take on the lead role. We knew this role would be a difficult one for any actor to act. News reporters have very specific body language and mannerisms, and a unique cadence in how they speak. It would have taken too much time and energy for an actor to get into character in each scene. A more effective approach was to find someone who could inhabit the skin of the character without really having to think about it.

What’s been the reaction so far?

The campaign has only been live for a short time, but so far the reaction has been pretty positive overall.

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