When is it good news for a driver stranded in the middle of nowhere to get caught in a thunderous cow stampede? When tough-guy-with-a-heart-of-gold, John Cena is riding one of those bovines.
The actor-wrestler (and frequent ad pitchman) stars in a new campaign from Experian that has him leading a surreal charge of talking purple-spotted livestock.
And if that alone doesn’t catch your eye, maybe the brand’s message will: a free Experian product called Boost can increase your credit score instantly. Those cows don’t say, “Moooooo,” by the way. They say, “Booooost.”
“The goal was to break through the clutter, disrupt, do something unexpected and humorous,” says Kevin Everhart, Experian’s vp, consumer and brand marketing. “We wanted to get people talking and create more of a mnemonic device with the cows.”
The spot, aptly called, “Stampede,” shows a despondent dude beside his stalled heap of junk, just wishing he could buy a new pickup truck. (A “credit denied” letter is visible on his dashboard). Cue Cena and his colorful herd of computer-generated cattle, decorated to leave an impression (and also reflect Experian’s signature purple branding).
Before you know it, the guy’s on his way in a fancy new ride. But not until he gets an earnest head nod from Cena.
“Consumers have described this as a hero product, so we wanted a hero character,” Everhart says. “Who’s a bigger hero than John Cena?”
Cena’s long and illustrious ad march has continued unabated. He co-starred in a Super Bowl 54 campaign for Michelob Ultra with late-night host and comedian Jimmy Fallon after previously shilling for brands like Skyy Vodka, Foot Locker, Wonderful Pistachios and Hefty.
Experian’s work, from in-house agency The Cooler and director Gary Freedman, will kick off one of the most significant advertising efforts to date from the brand and its first celebrity endorsement, Everhart says. It’ll roll out over the next several months with more commercials starring Cena, with media buys that will range from national cable and broadcast TV to OTT, digital and social.
The team discussed several ideas with Cena, and the WWE grappler latched onto the stampede concept. It featured no live cows, though some media outlets have thought they were real and asked if any were harmed during the shoot, Everhart says.
The Boost service, which debuted last spring, has attracted some 2.4 million users who have been able to bump up their credit scores by reporting their good practices, like consistently paying utility and cellphone bills. Execs wanted to elevate the Boost profile during a key time for financial services. (Consumers are especially tuned into money matters early in the year, leading to April’s tax day).
Experian continues to work with outside agencies on projects, Everhart says, but brought the bulk of its creative in-house more than two years ago “as a bit of an experiment.” The Cooler, led by chief creative director Todd Miller, “has paid major dividends for us” by being “completely, 100% focused and aligned on our business and our goals.”