You might nickname Ivy Funds' new advertising and branding campaign "The Real Portfolio Managers of Overland Park, Kansas."
That's because the lynchpin of Ivy Funds' new campaign, "The World Covered," is a series of video "diaries," shot in reality-television style, starring the firm's economists, analysts and portfolio managers.
"What's different about these video diaries is there is nothing polished about them," said Lori Dorsey, Ivy Funds' director of marketing. "We are capturing our managers' thoughts on the day's investments in frank moments."
In the unscripted, yet professionally edited videos developed in-house and filmed with only one camera and one director, Ivy Funds investment professionals share their reasoning and their passion for their investment philosophies, ideas and selections.
The fund managers are primarily filmed on site at the actual locations of their investments, throughout the world.
The documentaries include footage of local scenes and are set against background music, thus adding color and visual interest-and conveying a degree of energy and excitement rare for financial services marketing.
In the "Great American Companies" video, for instance, Phil Sanders, Ivy's chief investment officer, says: "At the end of the day, the U.S. is the most innovative and most competitive marketplace in the world, where there is a huge profit motive for companies that can innovate and be successful."
Dan Becker, portfolio manager, then adds, "We have copyrights, we have patents. If you discover something, it's yours. You can go public, and you can be economically rewarded. What we still do well here in the United States is we innovate and we create events, whether it's an iPod, a cancer drug or a microprocessor. No one else does that."
The video closes with Phil Sanders making the case for the United States' role in the new world economy: "It's a very globalized economy, and if you grow rapidly in the U.S., you can penetrate fast-growing international markets, namely China or Latin America."
The three other videos Ivy is currently featuring are: "Innovation & Transformation," "Global Rebalancing" and "Raw Materials & Resources."
"The World Covered" campaign kicked off in early February and will run throughout 2011.
The videos are housed at a microsite Ivy developed, http://theworldcovered.ivyfunds.com/home.
There, Ivy also posts timely articles written by its portfolio managers that run alongside vibrant photographs of such things as satellite dishes, oil rigs, shopping malls, windmills and flat-screen computers. Recent articles include "Saudi Arabia Under the Watchful Eye of Crude Oil Traders," "Japanese Crisis: Will it Threaten Global Economic Recovery?" and "Fukishima Nuclear Accident May Reshape the Energy Sector."
Ivy is promoting the videos as well as interesting news on international investing with daily postings on Facebook and YouTube. Print and online ads created by 50,000feet Ltd. are currently running in Barron's, Investment News, Morningstar Advisor and Seeking Alpha and will extend by early summer to Research magazine. All of the print ads have "Quick Response" codes that viewers can scan to instantly see an accompanying video.
In addition, Ivy will run 15-second spots culled from the videos on CNBC throughout the summer.
While the marketing department is responsible for all of the content populating the social media and microsite postings, the campaign has stoked interest among all of Ivy Funds' employees, and ideas are being submitted from every department, Dorsey said. One recent thought-provoking posting on Facebook read, "U.S. firms dominate in Fortune Magazine's list of 50 most admired global companies. Find out who's on top and who's joined the club."
Advisers, in turn, can use this information for meaningful dialogue with investors about current investment opportunities and Ivy's offerings.
The idea for "The World Covered" stems from the unique global perspective that Ivy Funds, with $44 billion in assets under management, has taken to its investment process ever since Waddell & Reed acquired the firm eight years ago, Dorsey said.
That led to "The Infinite Loop" marketing campaign Ivy launched in 2009, in which it stresses the interconnectedness of all types of investments in today's world.
"The World Covered" includes "The Infinite Loop" language but takes it a step further by aiming to be more dynamic and inspiring, Dorsey said. Ivy aims to achieve this by showcasing Ivy's investment professionals, team approach and specific investment choices, Dorsey said.
Thus, the goal of the new branding campaign is to highlight Ivy's distinct and disciplined investment process, global perspective, specific investment themes, product breadth and nearly 75-year heritage.
The campaign is directed solely at financial advisers, Dorsey said. Ivy Funds found through research that the 2,500 advisers who already use its investment products think of the firm as "innovative" and "sophisticated" but advisers outside its current sphere of partners were not aware of its global perspective and wide range of 32 mutual funds, Dorsey said. Thus, as the campaign progresses, Ivy will gauge advisers' perceptions of the firm against the benchmarks found in research from Brandscape, Cogent Research, Horsesmouth, Kasina, Market Metrics, Swan Dog and its own focus groups.
The idea for the videos came out of the footage Ivy began shooting of its morning investment meetings a year ago, Dorsey said. Upon learning that Ivy Funds' portfolio managers keep diaries of their investment trips, the marketing team decided it might be interesting to film one-on-one discussions with the portfolio managers, she said. It readily became apparent that the managers' direct delivery of their thoughts is far more compelling way of generating interest in Ivy Funds and its offerings than a marketing collateral piece, she said.
Reality television however was not the inspiration for the video diaries. Instead, Ivy Funds professionals' fresh "ideas become the inspiration," Dorsey said. "We weren't aiming to mimic reality TV with 'reality investment management.'"
The current campaign also includes a video of one of these morning meetings, titled "Ivy Presents the World Covered."
Ivy Funds will review its campaign at the end of the year but already expects to continue to post videos and news items on social media outlets, Dorsey said. Already, Ivy's microsite is attracting 2,000 unique page views a week, and as long as Ivy Funds generates gripping, fresh insights, that is likely to build, she said.