Monthly Archives: February 2009

Sam Waterston is a Commercial Cash Cow

“Independence is the spirit that drives America’s most successful investors.” This is the tagline for TD Ameritrade, and it’s delivered on point each and every time by the indomitable Sam Waterston. This is my favorite slogan in contemporary advertising and possibly the best ever thanks to Waterston’s delivery.

One might well ask, “Why the hell would anyone think that? It’s a catch phrase that is not catchy by any measure. It’s the eternal enemy of catchy. It’s catchy’s double enemy. No one will ever remember that, and whoever came up with it, from whatever firm, ought to be terminated from their position post haste.”

First off, there are at least two people who remember this slogan, yours truly being one of them. I think I’m in pretty damn good company too—the only other member of this exclusive, highly elite group is, of course, Sam Waterston.

More importantly, “Independence is the spirit that drives America’s most successful investors,” is a king among mottos because of its novelty. A catch phrase that no one will remember. How brilliant. The entire marketing campaign is brilliant. Here is how it must have been pitched: Sam Waterston, in all his elegance, strides—nay—glides toward the viewer, casually yet emphatically decrying the ineptitude of other online investment firm. We zoom upon his face, so soft, just like grandpa’s as he slices up the holiday ham on Christmas afternoon. The viewer is already sold. Grampy Waterston can say whatever he wants. “Independence is the spirit that drives America’s most successful investors.” They’re sold.

Ah yes. It rolls right off Waterston’s tongue. If anybody else tried that, the whole commercial would fall apart. Imagine Kris Kristofferson trying that. Fucked (if I may quote Ricky Gervais).

I love the TD Ameritrade slogan because it relies entirely on the honesty and credibility of one man. TD Ameritrade’s marketing campaign is Sam Waterston. Beautiful.

Tagged , , ,