USAA, the financial services provider for members of the military and their families, has seen its ads cut through when they tell authentic stories about real women who served in the armed forces.

Wes Laird, CMO at USAA, discussed this topic at the recent #SeeHer 2019 Creative and Media Leadership Summit linked to an initiative led by trade body the Association of National Advertisers and advocacy group The Female Quotient.

“Twenty percent of the military are women [and] 20% of the veterans that we serve are women,” he said. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: USAA’s formula for authentic advertising.)

Another cohort of women that USAA services, he explained, are the “very strong chief financial officers” for military families where their partner is stationed overseas.

“So, if your spouse is downrange in a warzone, or often deployed, you’re the one that’s making the financial decisions ... for your household,” Laird stated.

USAA has long-used real-life customers in their ads. “And all we have to do with these military men [and] these military women – either veterans or the CFO of the household – is represent them authentically,” he explained.

A case in point involved telling the story of Angelina and Michael Tenney – two married veterans – and their family. Angelina outranked her husband when they were in the Navy, and now leads financial decision-making in their home.

“She’s the lead character,” Laird said of this commercial. “She brings the personality … and the authenticity to the table in that family situation.

“She’s clearly the financial decision-maker. She clearly had a successful military career. Now she’s got her [post-military] career as well.”

The result? “It was, up to that point time, the most successful ad from a performance standpoint of any ad that we did. And the only magic was just showing her authentically,” said Laird.

And this spot, he continued, flagged up a deeper truth for the brand: although generic military-focused ads can be “flat and not effective”, an honest emphasis on women could deliver real cut-through.

Sourced from WARC