Earth People To Marketers: ‘Only Straight Talk Please’

Like most people, I don’t like marketing messaging that interrupts, distracts, exaggerates or condescends. Which is frustrating because so many marketing messages do just that — while also being hokey, gimmicky, loud, snarky, aggressive or exotic. As a result, most fail at trying to win me over, and a large number create dissonance among the brands behind them.

For me, marketing messages are most welcome when they counter complexity and confusion, or solve a specific problem at just the right time. On an emotional level, I’m more receptive to marketing messages when they calm, reassure, simplify and respect.

Which is why I’ve been particularly intrigued by some 10-second audio ads from Ally Bank that run at the beginning of Planet Money, an intelligent money-for-dummies podcast on NPR. I listen to Planet Money a few times a week while at the gym, and I’ve come to enjoy and even look forward to the short ads from Ally Bank.

With a calm, friendly voice, one ad says: “Support from this podcast comes from Ally Bank, committed to customer service. At, visitors can chat online with a customer-care advocate 24/7.” A customer-care advocate available all day, every day? I like that!

Another says: “Support from this podcast comes from Ally Bank, committed to customer service. With the option to reach a human being anytime at 877-247-Ally by pressing 0.” The ability to speak with a human being at any time, and avoid annoying phone trees? Music to my ears!

Those marketing messages are humble, refreshing, and devoid of gimmicks. Indeed, they are a great matchup with the venue. I really do appreciate that Ally Bank is underwriting great programming that helps simplify the world of money.

Having resonated with these ads, a rare event for me, I decided to visit It’s a refreshingly simple banking site, with clear product explanations and messaging that extend seamlessly from those initial ads on NPR. A prominent feedback form offers three ways to instantly connect with an Ally customer advocate, and it gives an option to have an advocate call you. The site even displays the current call-wait time. Equally important, the site prominently promotes its story and three core values:

  • “We talk straight. We don’t hide behind confusing jargon and fine print. We’ll always tell it to you straight. Because we believe it starts and ends with the customer.
  • We do right by you and your money. No minimum deposits or balances required. No hidden fees or penalties, either. We’re committed to finding the pain points in banking and fixing them so your money works harder every day.
  • We work to help you save more than other banks. We keep our overhead low, our rates competitive, and design every Ally product to maximize your savings.”

Wow, I wish my bank would talk to me like that! I’m now ready to ditch my bank and sign up with Ally Bank.

Now, about your marketing: Is it straight talk or spin?

This also was my latest MediaPost column.

(Photo Credit: Vibragiel)

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Published by Max Kalehoff

Father, sailor and marketing executive.

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