- ABC/Matt Klitscher
- Goldman Sachs is trying to tap into America’s reality-TV craze to pitch its new consumer-lending business, Marcus.
- The investment bank has partnered with JoJo Fletcher, who gained fame on ABC’s “The Bachelorette,” to pitch Marcus, it announced on this week.
“I heard that you’re looking to renovate, so this is perfect for you,” JoJo Fletcher told a host of “Living Oklahoma” in a sponsored segment this week after a short repartee about home improvement.
If you’ve followed Fletcher’s career, her comment might not be surprising. She was a real-estate developer before she gained fame on ABC’s “The Bachelorette,” after all.
What’s possibly more surprising is how she came to be on the show this week and who she was representing.
“When it comes to financing your home renovation, I always tell people, ‘Explore all of your options,'” Fletcher said. “That’s why I’m here today. I’ve partnered with Marcus by Goldman Sachs to share some of those tips that I’ve learned along the way.”
Let it sink in for a moment: Goldman Sachs has partnered with a star from “The Bachelorette.” It’s the latest sign that the bank is trying to court Main Street borrowers – and in doing so, shape a new image for itself.
On Tuesday, Fletcher visited Goldman Sachs’ headquarters in lower Manhattan. She met with Harit Talwar, the head of digital finance, then took a tour and posed for pictures with fans in the cafeteria.
Harit Talwar, Head of Digital Finance, and the rest of the @marcus team are excited to welcome Marcus’ new ambassador for home improvement loans, @JoelleFletcher ─ working together to help people make their renovation ideas a reality: https://t.co/3FqPWg4OnB pic.twitter.com/N9QW2Rvn4E
— Marcus by Goldman Sachs (@marcus) April 24, 2018
Fletcher will represent the bank’s consumer-lending business, Marcus, in a series of promotions, including nearly two dozen appearances on local TV news segments like “Living Oklahoma” and on radio shows, as well as in posts on her Facebook and Instagram pages, where she has more than 2 million followers.
The campaign is designed to target people in middle America where the Goldman Sachs brand may not be as familiar or where consumers may have a negative impression of the bank left over from the financial crisis.
“She can help us reach consumers in unexpected places like consumer, lifestyle, entertainment, and home publications,” Dustin Cohn, the head of brand and marketing communications for Goldman Sachs’s digital bank, said in an interview.
Led by Cohn – who joined Goldman after a career working with well-known consumer brands like Jockey, Pepsi, and Gatorade – the bank is testing its marketing boundaries in the usually buttoned-up financial-services sector. Goldman has invited journalists to comedy clubs in New York and San Francisco, and on Tuesday it hosted a trivia night in Manhattan.
Since launching in 2016, Marcus has originated $3 billion in loans, the firm says. Goldman’s chief financial officer, Marty Chavez, has said the firm can see a $13 billion lending opportunity with Marcus over three years.
The bank declined to say how much it was paying Fletcher to be a spokeswoman for Marcus.
Fletcher’s appearances, while not explicitly in commercials, will include interviews as a home-renovation expert. She’ll say she’s representing Goldman Sachs and its loan offerings, and a banner at the bottom of the screen will tout the firm.
As long as that’s clear, the strategy isn’t likely to attract negative attention for Goldman, according to Brad Adgate, an independent media consultant based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Still, it’s a content marketing strategy more familiar to consumer-goods brands – or at least the credit card industry – than to more traditional financial services, he said. Last year, Early Warning, the bank-owned consortium that runs the Zelle peer-to-peer-payments network, hired the “Hamilton” actor Daveed Diggs as a brand ambassador.
“This has become a very popular strategy for advertisers, blurring the line” between ads and content, Adgate said.
For banks, he said, “you think of a target audience of people who are older and expect a more staid marketing strategy that might involve more traditional media.”
No word yet on what the “Bachelorette” host Chris Harrison thinks of the new campaign.