December 16, 2009


By Wandrille Pruvot, Regional Director, Europe

This week, I'd like to share with you the story of two French financial institutions, both of which are successfully using the mobile internet to attract young consumers.

One company is adopting a straight-forward sales approach, providing information about financial products and a connection to sales agents. The other is undertaking a branding campaign with no direct sales component, the sort of advertising more generally associated with soft drink and alcohol companies.

For both groups, the youth – particularly those under the age of 25 -- are a critical target market, because if you choose a bank by your mid-twenties, you're likely to stick with it for the rest of your life.

It's a sign of the times that these mainstream “brick and mortar” companies are now making the mobile internet an integral part of their advertising strategies, particularly to reach out to the younger demographics.

Let's take a look . . .


The largest retail banking group in France, Crédit Agricole launched its first mobile property in 2008. It now has several mobile sites, including “Jeunes Actifs” where it promotes financial services to the youth. Each month a different product is featured. This month, for example, Crédit Agricole advises young people to start planning for retirement now.

The site provides a link offering more information as well as an opportunity to speak with a bank officer. Users enter a postal code and can then either enter their contact details so that the bank will call them back or they can click to dial the bank directly.

“Jeunes Actifs” also offers additional services and content to generate stickiness for the site. Locate a nearby ATM, download wallpapers for the French national football and CA Tour de France teams or play a game and have a chance to win prizes like DVDs for the TV series “House”.

Crédit Agricole drives consumers to the site by purchasing mobile ads as well as running television and outdoor ad campaigns. The banner ads have a click-through rate of 87 percent. The bank's goal is clear: generate sales leads and consumer acquisition. In the process, the mobile site also collects consumer data as users enter their detail to play contests and contact sales officers.

Unlike Crédit Agricole, Mutuelles de Mans Assurances – an insurance provider better known by its initals MMA – does not provide any sort of financial information or service on its mobile property. Instead it is associating itself with mobile content and has created a free service on a site called “Mon Mobile Adoré ” (yes, MMA).

At first, MMA simply offered ringtones and other simple downloadable content. Now, though, the portal enables users to easily access their top six favorite mobile websites by placing icons for these preferred sites on a single customised page of their phone. Consumers can choose from more than 350 sites, including eBay, Google, MTV, YouTube and localised news and information sources. It's sort of like “myYahoo” or “Windows Live” for the mobile phone.

More than 50,000 people have subscribed to MMA and on average each consumer accesses the service at least once a week. In addition to helping users set up a mobile homepage, MMA also provides basic information about the mobile internet, including how much it costs to surf and how to configure your phone.

To use MMA, though, you must go to an internet website to sign up and choose your icons. Registration provides MMA with consumer data. The service itself is a simple-to-use drag-and-drop model. While MMA has branded this application, they didn't invent it. They are using a white-label service of another French company called Goojet.

Going forward, I hope MMA adds more content to their site. BuzzCity's soon-to-be-launched gaming portal Djuzz, for example, can also be “white-labeled”.

The same digital media agency – Marvelous Mobile, an arm of the French global media giant Publicis – is behind both the Crédit Agricole and MMA campaigns. This agency has definitely been a creative force for mobile in Europe and it runs mobile campaigns for some of the world's biggest consumer brands, including Coca-Cola, Levi's, Reebok and Renault.

I don't think it's an accident that French banks are ahead of financial institutions in other countries when it comes to mobile. French operators have invested and strongly promoted the mobile internet since 2001.

Both Crédit Agricole and MMA started small and then expanded their mobile presence. It's difficult to say which bank has the more successful campaign as the metrics for success are different. Sales leads and conversions for the one, “eyeballs” and portal members for the other. In both cases, though, the client is extremely pleased with the campaign.

Financial institutions and other traditional companies across the globe should take note. If you want to build loyalty or drive sales among the youth and young professionals, build up your mobile properties now!

Joyeux Noël and Bonne Année à tous!