Talk About Change Agents…

MIT Advertising Lab introduces us to IDEO, and reinforces the idea that a product design company can positively impact a brand’s advertising.
IDEO describes the work that led to Bank of America’s popular “Keep the Change” promotion/incentive program.

Facing the challenge of enticing people into opening new accounts, Bank of America came to IDEO in search of ethnography-based innovation opportunities. To better understand the desired market–boomer-age women with kids–IDEO traveled with members of Bank of America’s innovation team across the United States, conducting observations in Atlanta, Baltimore, and San Francisco. They discovered that many people in both the target audience and the general public would often round up their financial transactions for speed and convenience. In addition, the team found that many moms had difficulty saving what money they had, whether due to a lack of resources or willpower.
Keep the Change launched in October 2005. In less than one year, it attracted 2.5 million customers, translating into more than 700,000 new checking accounts and one million new savings accounts for Bank of America. Impressed by the unique and intuitive nature of the program, 99% of its subscribers have chosen to keep the service–along with their change.

“Ethnography-based innovation opportunities,” reminds me of the “we’re not advertisers, we’re cultural anthropologists” shtick. Not that I’m against it.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.