Stephen Tisdalle, chief marketing officer at State Street Global Advisors, and the force behind marketing campaigns for the now famous Fearless Girl, won Fund Action‘s Fund Marketer of the Year Award at the Mutual Fund Industry Awards on April 12.
His efforts to make investors aware of the breadth of the fund giant’s product suite and reshape the firm’s brand earned him the top nod.
Tisdalle began working to revamp SSGA’s voice and public perception when he joined the firm in 2016. He led the launch of four successful advertising campaigns, including the widely publicized Fearless Girl, which became a tourist attraction on Wall Street and traveled the world.
SSGA designed Fearless Girl to promote the firm’s commitment to gender diversity. Within three months, the statue generated 6.5 billion social engagements across six continents, including 780 million Instagram impressions. There were several thousand TV broadcasts about the statue, in addition to print and radio reports.
People gravitated toward the statue, which depicts an eight-year-old multi-racial girl because she appeared confident, and her message was not political in nature, Tisdalle previously told FA.
“She is not protesting – she is not shaking her fist at the bull,” he said. “We placed the girl there because, when you look at companies that have greater gender diversity on their boards and on the senior management levels, they tend to outperform companies that don’t. The whole message was very optimistic, and it really appealed to people of all generations and all political persuasions.”
Tisdalle forged a partnership between SSGA and McCann, the ad agency behind Fearless Girl and the firm’s other digital and print ad campaigns last year.
Another campaign, “Because _____ happens,” focused on geopolitical issues like Brexit and US congressional gridlock to promote the firm’s flagship exchange-traded fund: the $252.7bn SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY). The campaign, which ran from February through December, generated 517 million impressions, including 187 million digital impressions.
Imagery featuring Mao Zedong and Benjamin Franklin facing off in an ad about trade wars – aimed to grab viewers’ attention, while the ad copy emphasized how SPY performs well in turbulent times, Tisdalle said.
“The last thing you would think is that it’s promoting a particular ETF or investment strategy,” Tisdalle said. “It’s really presenting our view, and how our offerings are relevant for these types of things that are top of mind.”
“GLDilocks and the bear markets” played on the classic fairytale to highlight the $37.6bn SPDR Gold Shares (GLD) and the $17m SPDR Long Dollar Gold Trust (GLDW). The campaign generated 14.5 million impressions from October through the end of 2017 and led to a 41% improvement in client interaction with the firm compared to previous product-specific campaigns.
Last November, SSGA rolled out the fourth series – “Every little bip counts,” which was nominated for FA’s Ad Campaign of the Year Award. The campaign highlighted the firm’s low-cost SPDR Portfolio ETFs. The suite ranked in $10.5bn in the four months after the campaign ran (FA, 2/26).
Whether it be through text or imagery, Tisdalle said he and his team aimed to add more personality to its communications with current and potential investors.
“We’re finding a voice that reflects our culture, the way we think and our worldliness,” he said. “Sometimes it’s tongue in cheek, and sometimes there’s a stroke of humility woven in because we tend to be kind of understated. I want to keep that – I don’t want us to be bold and brash or be chest-thumping. That’s not what SSGA investors are like.”