Brands in the News

UBS, Customer Insight and Being a Good Father

11 Sep , 2015  

Yesterday while reading the Wall Street Journal online, I was asked a rather significant question:

Am I a good father?

That got me thinking. I aspire to be a good father to my three children. I try to be a good example. I help with homework, praise and encourage each kid, and help put food on the table. But then I work a lot, so I’m not home all the time. Sometimes I lose my patience when Charlie and Anna spend an entire day squabbling. I coached Anna’s soccer team last year, but I’m not sure that I did a very good job of it because I really don’t know much about soccer.

So I don’t know. I clicked on the question, which of course took me to a website for UBS, the Swiss banking giant. Apparently, the company can provide wealth management advice.

But I’m still stuck on the good father thing. Do I push the kids too much?  Not enough? Should we hire a college counselor?

I would need a therapist to answer these questions.. Do they have those at UBS?

UBS raises a number of provocative questions in its new marketing campaign.

– Am I a good father?


– Will I be missed when I step back?

– Is my business growing fast enough?

– Can I truly make a difference?


The firm deserves credit for doing its homework;  they clearly talked with clients and potential clients and uncovered deep insights. I suspect these really are some of the issues successful people struggle with.

The problem is that UBS doesn’t answer the questions in a credible way. Is UBS really going to help me work through my questions about being a good father? Will they help me understand whether or not I will be missed? No.

UBS demonstrates why great marketing is so hard. The team identified important insights, but they then used them in a clumsy manner. They are telling people, “We know you are worried about being a good father. Admit it. So let us invest your money.” It doesn’t really work.

Understanding an insight isn’t enough for successful marketing. You then have to use the insight in a savvy way to build your brand.

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The next session of Kellogg on Branding is October 11 to 16 in Chicago. It should be a great week. If you want to learn more about building great brands, don’t miss it. Click here to learn more.

2 Responses

  1. Tom Shanahan says:

    Excellent linking, Tim. I’m always seeing this kind of provocative marketing and it grabs you but then leaves you hanging and the effect is I am “mad” at the company. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t their intent …

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Conversation Across the Site

  • David Rose { This sounds very very difficult. You put alot of energy into it and obviosly care. I would suggest you focus on the room and let... }
  • M E Lesniak { I think you picked the wrong hill to stand on. You work at one of the most expensive degree factories in the country and I’m... }
  • Stephen Calkins { Forgiveness based on income? What if it is a wealthy family that figured borrowing cheaply was a good deal, but there is massive wealth? What... }
  • Todd Holscher { Transparency in pricing is a very good idea. Students will still susceptible to the influence of marketing and advertising by colleges, but it’s the right... }
  • Emita Hill { Vast sums of money. Alternatively provide more support to state schools so they can lower tuition and maybe to privates strictly for scholarships. }
  • David Rose { Tim, I dont think your views are balanced. You obviously are being paid by these loans. The money has been given to your university and... }
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