Tearsheet’s Acquire Awards are the financial industry’s top awards program focused on marketing, customer acquisition, branding, and growth. This generation’s financial services and fintech companies are deeply focused on achieving scale, one customer at a time.
Intended to identify and celebrate the best customer-facing work in financial services, Tearsheet named the winners of this year's Acquire Awards this past Tuesday at our Acquire Conference.
So without further ado, here are this year's Acquire Award winners:
Marketer of the Year: Yotta's Trevor Ford
Growing a neobank from scratch would be a challenge for any marketing professional. With zero brand awareness and facing stiff competition on paid marketing from well-established players, Yotta's Trevor Ford architected a plan to grow and scale a seed-stage, brand new neobank to over 350,000 users.
As a lean one-person marketing team with the budget of a seed-stage startup for the first 6 months, it required getting scrappy and creative for the startup bank which offers users the chance to win up to $10 million every week.
Yotta partnered with a handful of well-known personal finance influencers like Graham Stephan, Andrei Jikh, Nate O’Brien, and others to spread awareness about Yotta, build trust, and help explain Yotta's value prop.
Furthering to build trust with potential users, co-founders Adam and Ben were nominated for and were named to Forbes’ 30 under 30 list for “social impact” for their work in building Yotta. After raising a Series A round and looking to test some paid marketing, Ford created a YouTube video he hoped would keep watchers entertained while also learning about Yotta and its unique approach to banking. The video garnered over 1.5 million views in its first 6 month and drove thousands of signups.
Marketing Team of the Year: Zelle
At the beginning of 2021, the Zelle marketing team set out to find the whitespace in the P2P category and solidify a strategic foundation that felt true and authentic to its brand.
It was no small challenge, as they were up against competitors with extremely large marketing budgets. As a core team of under ten people, they had to be nimble to make decisions quickly and work together to manage an intense workload, all while keeping bank partners privy to marketing plans, all while managing two agencies, Pereira O’Dell and Huge.
Notable marketing initiatives in 2021 included a first-to-market “Oprah Daily” integration that featured Oprah rewarding pandemic teachers, working with Bleacher Report’s HighlightHER and Ari Chambers to spotlight women’s sports and facilitate female athletes giving back through inspirational murals and monetary gifts, a founding sponsorship of the Hoopbus Women’s Tournament, enabling its launch and ensuring winners received prize money directly into their bank accounts, and integrations in Telemundo’s “Let’s Dance” and ABC’s “Home Economics.”
The firm also produced content showcasing everyday use cases with National Women’s Soccer League athletes, a BuzzFeed community support franchise (“Transfer-Mation Monday”), and trusted personalities (Conan O’Brien, Will Arnett) sharing personal anecdotes via podcast reads.
A media partnership with Vox Media’s Explainer Studio produced a content series called “The Science Behind Scams” that focused on reducing fraud and scams within the P2P space. Throughout the fall and winter of 2021, Zelle partnered with Nev Schulman, host and executive producer of MTV’s Catfish, to raise awareness of suspicious behavior online as it relates to scams and fraud.
Best Product Marketing: Lili
Challenger bank Lili refocused its product marketing around one of its core proposition values: helping freelancers optimize their tax liability.
By emphasizing Lili’s ability to track business deductions, automatically set aside a percentage of income for taxes and generate expense reports and Schedule C, Lili brings the topic to the attention of users and gives them the tools they need to handle this frustrating task.
Lili combines a business checking account with business tools like a write-off tracker, an invoicing software, automatic tax savings, and a Schedule C generator.
The challenger bank has created an ecosystem where single business owners can manage all of their accounting – invoices, payments, spending, receipts – all in one place and on the go, saving them precious time, money and stress throughout the year.
Campaign of the Year: Novo
On January 7, 2021, Azlo announced that it would be closing its small business neobank, leaving its more than 100,000 customers only a few months to find an alternative.
At the time, small business bank Novo had approximately 25,000 customers, a team of 15 full-time staff, and had raised $4.8 million in seed funding the previous year.
The team knew that acquiring Azlo customers presented a unique growth opportunity, and also recognized that acquiring these customers
would be extremely competitive.
The company embarked on a campaign that combined video production, paid advertising, social media, and a direct engagement with Azlo to win over its customers. The company converted a big chunk of Azlo users, parlaying its momentum into further customer growth throughout the year, culminating in a $90 million fundraising round in January 2022.
Agency of the Year: Wachsman
Founded in 2015, Wachsman quickly established itself as the largest, only globally-scaled communications agency serving the blockchain crypto industry.
Although Wachsman’s clients are blockchain-specific, the diversity of its work ranges from finance, to regulatory and compliance, to entertainment, and many others.
Examples of these leaders in the crypto space include Rally, Rarible, Aleo, Bittrex, SCRT Labs. In only one year, Wachsman has continued to rapidly grow along with the blockchain industry, with now over 130 full-time employees – while doing so sustainably and prioritizing
As a flat organization, the concept of servant leadership is a huge cornerstone of Wachsman’s culture. Servant leadership is a management philosophy in which the focus of the leader is to serve. This is different from traditional leadership where the leader's main goal is to advance the company or organization.
Most Creative Campaign: Current's 2 Days in Hell
Current’s brand is about being relevant and establishing trust with its members. Heading into 2021, the firm already had a unique influencer strategy centered around enabling mutually beneficial content with partners. Current launched an integrated marketing campaign called ‘2 Days in Hell' around Halloween.
The faux horror film trailer dramatically gives life to the hellish nightmare of not having access to your money when you need it most. The trailer follows a group of friends on a road trip in the middle of nowhere.
Running low on gas, the group stops to refill at a gas station, only to find the gas station is cash only. They hit the ATM but realize no one’s paycheck has cleared yet, so they have no money to withdraw.
The trailer, produced by Greenpoint Pictures' Ghost + Cow, stars TikTok creator Flossybaby, who has a following of nearly four million.
The campaign was integrated across channels including a website takeover, social channels including Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, member emails, linear and connected TV, digital, performance, influencer, and PR.
Best Content Series (B2B): Publicis Sapient
As the world recovers, the global financial services community is changing how it conducts business to confront lingering concerns and growing threats, actively promoting positive change.
Publicis Sapient's content series Guide to Next helps executives know what’s coming and to seize the available opportunities.
The Guide to Next Series was not a typically yearly outlook of bullets and quick trends. By getting hyper-focused on four key themes – Banking with a Purpose, Platform Transformation, Customer-First Banking and AI Challenges – the service firm was able to provide further details and offer its own subject matter expert guidance on areas it feels banks need to focus on to best position themselves for future growth.
The content series was the most visited page on its website for over a month and still produces significant traffic today. In addition, it was among the top three pages for inbound leads over the last year.
This was the first year Publicis Sapient produced Guide to Next and plans on expanding on it this year.
Best Content Series (B2C): Zelle
With the ongoing rise of payment scams and fraud, Zelle set out to educate consumers about digital banking safety
by giving consumers tips on how to keep their money safe in an increasingly digital world.
The payments firm identified Vox Media as a strong partner to bring its campaign to life. Zelle wanted to grab consumers' attention with an educational and entertaining message using a trusted source.
Vox Media’s Explainer Studio created a suite of resources. “The Science Behind Scams” Explainer Series consists of a custom content hub that acts as an interactive page, housing all of the content in the series.
Zelle and Vox produced 4 long-form explainer videos, along with cutdowns, that focus on the most common scams, animated real-life scenarios, and interviews with subject matter experts. The campaign also includes videos with quick tips and a quiz that allows consumers to test their knowledge on information related to common financial scams and fraud. There are also podcast segments that highlight example scenarios with advice from subject matter experts.
Over 22 campaign assets were distributed across Vox Media platforms and Vox’s extended Concert network of sites, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Vox Media, and Apple News.