ISA season marketing campaign

Defining Innovative Finance ISAs as an accessible product for everyone.

RateSetter ISA landing page

The ISA season occurs during the last few weeks in March, when banks and investment platforms launch incentives to attract last-minute savers before the tax year ends. This represents RateSetter's primary annual opportunity to significantly boost the number of people investing on their platform, so creating a strong advertising campaign is critical to achieving success.

With a lot of competition from banks and other fin-tech companies, creating a robust advertising campaign was essential for RateSetter to attract new investors. Their previous ISA campaigns had targeted people who already had a Cash or Stocks and Share ISA, but that didn’t hold Innovative Finance ISA. RateSetter’s existing strategy had been to raise awareness of IF ISAs and market them as a vital piece of an investment portfolio.

The creative brief for RateSetter’s 2020 ISA campaign was that it needed to be visually striking. They believed that a distinctive design would significantly increase the number of investors gained. The project was briefed as an advert which would trigger curiosity amongst its audience, inspiring them to find out more about this product.

The problem

Initially my team and I had to determine what visual style would be suitable for the project. Our stakeholders required imagery that was ‘iconic’ but were unable to provide examples. My team and I needed to ascertain what the parameters were for the concepts, and what the stakeholders of the project considered to be the right approach visually.

Our target audience were the general public, those considered as not particularly astute investors, readers of the Metro newspaper who had responsibilities such as a mortgage or young family and were employed at lower to mid management level, and who had some money to invest. They might have had heard about ISAs, but didn’t know which type was the right option for them.

Finding imagery that would be relatable for the audience in order to demystify an Innovative Finance ISA was difficult. There were concerns that the general public would dismiss IF ISAs as something for experienced investors, so the design would be required to break down those barriers.

Advertising mood boards

Creating mood boards was a really important exercise because they enabled me to identify common themes, and discuss the developement of the project with colleagues and stakeholders.

How I approached the challenge

To begin with, I researched adverts that were either award-winning or highly successful. I refined that selection to adverts that featured thought-provoking design of everyday objects or situations. The remaining visuals were then presented on a mood-board for discussion and inspiration for myself and the other designers.

Over the course of a few weeks, I held design workshops with the stakeholders where visual concepts were presented and debated. The ideas were narrowed down to an ambitious photographic idea which the stakeholders believed was the right direction for the creative. The concept was a very unusual photographic montage of buildings and people, with half of the composition flipped upside-down. My team and I were excited to create a campaign that was different from the brand style.

Due to an increasingly tight turnaround, it wasn't possible to organise consumer feedback sessions on the ISA creative. However, a creative solution was to spend several lunch breaks soliciting feedback from workers in the City of London. The insights we gained revealed a general familiarity with the concept of cash ISA, but most people knew very little about IF ISA. The overall feedback concerning the ISA advertising designs were positive, and people were curious about the product. It was reassuring to learn that we were on the right path with the advertising concept.

ISA press ad example

The image above is an example of the concept execution in print. It was important to show how RateSetter's ISA product was beneficial for both investors and borrowers.

The issues I encountered

The timeline for creating the range of adverts was extremely tight. As we approached the deadline, the pressure to conclude the project increased.

We needed to gain more time to create the final adverts, which made it necessary to revise the timelines of other scheduled tasks and projects. I was able to postpone the deadlines of all non-essential design activities whilst the ISA project was ongoing. Additionally, the team outsourced the photography to a professional studio who, once briefed, would take responsibility for sourcing models, taking the neccessary shots and preparing them for use on the adverts.

The final step of managing the pressure on myself and the team was to organise the project into smaller assignments. My team and I assigned ourselves smaller, more specific tasks to collectively finish the project over a shorter duration, whilst maintaining a high standard of design.

ISA digital banner example

A wide range of digital banners were required to target specific groups of people. We created variations of models and headlines to find the correct combination.

What was achieved

My team and I learned some valuable lessons from our involvement in the project - by breaking the project down into smaller tasks the pressures of hitting the deadline were reduced. Additionally, visibility of the project timeline and outsourcing the photography had been conducive in achieving a successful delivery of the project.

The outcome of the project was a successful launch of the campaign. It was very rewarding to see the final designs of the adverts live on screen and in print. The feedback from RateSetter was extremely positive and I was proud of the recognition my team and I received. The new visual style we had devised for the ISA project was very popular within the business. I was requested to integrate the new designs into the brand guidelines making them a core part of the RateSetter experience.

Responsive ISA emails