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SunTrust turns purpose into practice

News, 16 November 2016

ORLANDO, FL: SunTrust, the banking group, has successfully turned its purpose into practice through starting a "movement" based around helping consumers improve their financial well-being, whether they are customers or not.

Susan Somersille Johnson – Corporate EVP/CMO at SunTrust – discussed this subject at the Association of National Advertisers' (ANA) 2016 Masters of Marketing Conference in Orlando, Florida

More specifically, she outlined the brand's onUp initiative, which was launched during the 2016 Super Bowl, and provides people with a slate of tools, resources and advice to take steps towards achieving "financial confidence".

"Four years ago, we became a purpose-driven company dedicated to lighting the way to financial well-being," said Somersille Johnson. (For more details, read Warc's exclusive report: SunTrust turns purpose into practice.)

"There's a long way between declaring your purpose and making it reality. So we know that we can do more. And, like others, we struggle every day to integrate it across all that we do.

"It's not easy to make sure that everybody is taking advantage of it … This year we found a way to kick it into gear, to take it to a whole new level."

Through the onUp program, SunTrust has effectively galvanised a range of internal stakeholders, as well as signing up over 800,000 consumers as participants since February 2016.

And the brand's debut Super Bowl spot exemplified its goal of developing a "movement", rather than running a traditional campaign, by offering a message of financial understanding and encouragement instead of promoting products.

"In a traditional campaign, you get a lot of insights and research, and it's typically about the market, about the brand. And then you attempt to change perceptions about the brand. For a movement, all the research is about people, behaviours, psychology and the pulse of the nation," said Somersille Johnson.

Building on this theme, she suggested that while a brand can spearhead a "movement", it does not enjoy the level of control associated with traditional marketing efforts.

"You don't own a movement – which was really scary for us – like a typical brand message. You don't own the messenger, you don't own the message, and you don't know where it's going to go," said Somersille Johnson.

"And a lot of times … you can inspire somebody to go to a competitor's product. And you have to be OK with that."

Data sourced from Warc