As the economy continues to flirt with bear market territory and inflation pressures worry consumers, financial brands are rethinking their marketing. At Morgan Stanley, Alice Milligan, chief marketing officer, has been honing the company’s brand strategy to be a one-stop resource for all types of investors—new and established—in both good times and bad.
“Morgan Stanley always and historically has had an appropriate tone in terms of the times and seriousness of wealth management, financial services and investing,” she said on the latest episode of Ad Age’s Marketer’s Brief podcast. “It’s a complicated topic when it’s about your money, your company’s money—people take that seriously.”
She said that amid the market’s upheaval, the brand is focusing on reassuring customers that they can depend on Morgan Stanley to help them “weather the storm.” This includes offering more education on what is happening in the economy and with gas prices. Customers have been gravitating toward Morgan Stanley’s equity research reports and podcasts, Milligan added.
Earlier this week, James Gorman, the CEO of New York-based Morgan Stanley, said he sees the risk of a recession as 50%.
Milligan is also focusing on streamlining Morgan Stanley’s marketing under one umbrella. The company counts subsidiaries such as E-Trade, Eaton Vance and Solium.
“My job has been around starting to look at how do we elevate the enterprise or master brand and become a portfolio or house of brands,” said Milligan. As part of this strategy, Morgan Stanley is reviewing its creative agency approach, noting that the review should be wrapped up by fall. EP & Co. has recently worked for the Morgan Stanley brand. Late last year, the company hired Interpublic Group’s Mediahub as its media agency of record for Morgan Stanley and E-Trade brands following a four-month review. The company’s E-Trade brand ran a Super Bowl ad this year from MullenLowe New York.
On the podcast, Milligan also talks about how Morgan Stanley is reaching new customers and which marketing channels she has found to be most effective in talking to the next generation of investors. She also talks about why the jury might still be out on the brand’s entrance into the metaverse.