Charles Schwab

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Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.: The “Talk to Chuck” Advertising Campaign

1. What circumstances motivated development of the TTC campaign?

The Charles Schwab & Company was founded shortly after the U.S. SEC deregulated brokerage commissions in 1975. The company differentiated itself at the time by becoming a self-service brokerage house that put the power in investor’s hands to make critical decisions while paying up to 75% less than traditional brokerage firms. This established the brand as a trend setter, which it further cemented by becoming a technological leader in 1996 when it introduced an online trading platform. Schwab then began to further cut prices and offer financial services through three different market segments:
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By increasing the price of its services Schwab looked more like a full-service broker instead of a leading-edge discount broker. The price increase and competition from other discount brokerage firms increased customer expectations regarding service quality that was not being met by Schwab. This resulted in a gap between customer wants and perceived service.

The first step in tackling the gap was cost reductions, which were spearheaded by Chuck upon his return from retirement, and led to the decrease in the price of services. Next Schwab needed to create a differentiating factor through the use of marketing communications to bridge the gap between the current perceived service and expected service. This led to the “Talk to Chuck” (TTC) marketing campaign, which communicated the core values of the company. The company needed to focus on three main customer pain points: excessive broker commission on stock trades, overwhelming mutual fund selection, and the stock recommendations based on opinion rather than fact. Schwab’s advertising agency, Euro RSCG, did this through one common theme the accessibility of Schwab and used the informal tag line “Talk to Chuck”. The new campaign targeted customers in the age range from 35 to 54 years old with investable assets between $50 thousand and $2 million, which Schwab termed
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