NASDAQ: 2005 Gold Effie Award Winner Case Study

December 8, 2005

In the wake of Enron, Arthur Andersen, consumer packaged goods product and service industry scandals, the start of the 21st century has brought credibility challenges to several industries. For NASDAQ, the challenge started post 9/11. By September 2002, the NASDAQ had lost 77% of its value and 100% of its credibility with the financial community, C-level executives and investors. To survive, they needed to restore the financial community's confidence in NASDAQ.

The "Listed on NASDAQ" campaign allowed NASDAQ to speak for itself through the visionary founders and leaders who run its most respected member firms. As a result, all key positioning and brand confidence measures increased dramatically, NASDAQ achieved a dominant share of IPOs, and sixteen months into the campaign, the NASDAQ was up 76% versus the DOW's +38%. Result-- Credibility restored.

The Challenge

NASDAQ's image was lagging. From November 2001 to March 2002, NASDAQ suffered the consequential decline of the internet economy, as once hot internet stocks tanked. The challenge for McKinney was to restore the credibility among C-suite executives and individual investors.

Research on NASDAQ's Image

150 interviews were conducted with C-suite executives from successful companies that were listed on NASDAQ, such as Whole Foods, Intel, Apple, Staples, and Microsoft.

NASDAQ was seen as the "new economy" and was associated with the positive attributes of being:

  • Contemporary
  • Innovative
  • Having rapid growth
  • Technologically advanced
  • Nimble
  • Dynamic
  • Accessible
  • Younger
  • Visionary
  • Innovators
  • Owners and founders

On the downside, research showed that people described NASDAQ as being:

  • Volatile
  • Tech-laden
  • A great risk

Competitive Research: New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)

Positive attributes: Negative attributes:
  • "The Establishment"
  • A benchmark
  • Blue chip/solid
  • Steady in its growth
  • Inflexible
  • Blue chip/solid
  • Less upscale
  • Subjected
  • Antiquated
  • Having hired hands/profiteers
  • Staid
  • Dispassionate and disengaged

Successful Campaign Generation for NASDAQ

The campaign was built on insights discovered through research. Critical consumer insight: People were assuming all successful and non-technical companies were listed on the NYSE.

The campaign set out to prove that NASDAQ was listing companies that went beyond the scope of technology, and were also visionary/founder led. Therefore, the new campaign highlighted that NASDAQ stood for:

  • Progress
  • Being visionary
  • Current, diverse and balanced
  • Proven performance
  • A better market
  • For right now

The campaign was delivered through the inspirational voices of the people who are NASDAQ, instead of having these successful visionaries speak about or for NASDAQ.

The first spot that aired featured 2 CEOs from technology companies and 1 CEO from a non-tech company. The NASDAQ story was told through inspiring clips of leaders whose companies were represented on this stock exchange and whose messages embodied the positive attributes listed above. It was all about "what is a NASDAQ company? And here are the people who run these companies" Indirectly, these messages became CEO endorsements of NASDAQ. A very powerful, insightful and tasteful execution.

The communication toolkit was bolstered with one-to-one sales material, direct mail, PR, and advertising.

The Results
  • Within a week and a half of airing, the brand experienced a +40% unaided awareness among audience members. This precipitated a perception shift among individual investors helping to restore NASDAQ's credibility.
  • With comfort in NASDAQ investment, the market went up.
  • NASDAQ grew at twice the rate of the Dow Jones.
  • As a result, the C-suite beliefs remained strong.
  • There were also switches to NASDAQ from NYSE.
  • NASDAQ experienced an upward growth from January 04 - June 04.

Things to Remember

  • Consumer or B2B brand, knowing what really differentiates you from your competition, and finding a way to resonate emotionally has powerful consequences.
  • Even at their darkest times, brands that understand their value and can communicate it can succeed
  • If you know who you're going after, you don't have to spend a boatload of money to make a difference; powerful ideas act/perform quickly.
  • Assess your brand's core values, and push those that differentiate you from your competition.

"Never underestimate opportunity's ability to disguise itself"

- Meg Whitman, President and CEO, EBay Inc.


"Progress. Listed by NASDAQ." Brad Brinegar, President and CEO, McKinney. ANA Business-to-Business Marketing Committee Meeting, 12/08/05.