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By Sofie Farthing

Disruptive marketing examples in financial services

Last Updated 8 Aug 2019

When we think of Digital marketing for financial services, we don’t exactly think of innovative, exciting and creative marketing campaigns. It’s not exactly a sector that’s known for its dynamic marketing image! And that’s to be expected. Internal cultural or external regulatory barriers often get in the way of pushing the creative boundaries for insurance providers, global banks and loan and credit card specialists.

But when they do it, it can be really impactful. We love seeing an industry that has so often been unfairly characterised as stodgy, straitlaced or unresponsive demand attention with some powerful disruptive financial services marketing.

Monzo & The Big Issue

If you haven’t heard of Monzo lately, where have you been? They’ve made a name for themselves as one of the UK’s most admired ‘challenger’ banks of recent times for it’s grassroots-orientated marketing approach.

Monzo have only been around since 2015 and welcomed their millionth customer just three years later – a pretty incredible feat when you think about how vital trust and reputation is in the financial services sector. To build this kind of network in just three years is seriously impressive. There’s no question that much of this digital mobile-only bank’s success can be attributed to the inclusive ethos it has nurtured from the outset.

Monzo work with a democratic culture that encourages users to provide feedback and suggestions on the product – a great way to connect and build a relationship with customers which is another very, very important piece of the puzzle when it comes to success in the financial sector. The brands loyal ‘Monzonauts’ even devised a new name when the original name Mondo was subject to a trademark challenge from another business.

Fast-forward to 2019 and Monzo has continued to steal a march on traditional high-street banks with its sideways thinking, partnering with The Big Issue to launch what has been claimed to be the ‘world’s first resellable magazine’.

This ‘Pay it Forward’ scheme used a QR code that was featured on each Big Issue magazine, enabling readers to pass their copy onto a friend who could then pay for the magazine again by scanning the front cover. This meant that magazine vendors could boost their income thanks to the onward sale of a single weekly issue.

Flo and Progressive

When was the last time you saw an advertising mascot? Aside from perhaps Compare the Market’s trademark meerkat characters, the advertising mascot has seemed somewhat of an endangered species in recent years. 

Progressive Insurance do boast a successful mascot story, with their fictional salesperson character Flo, portrayed by the actress and comedian Stephanie Courtney. The cashier character proved something of an accidental hit when she first appeared in a commercial for the brand in January 2008 at a time when the Progressive Insurance’s brand recognition was ‘somewhere between zero and being mistaken for Progresso soup’, in the words of Jeff Beer.

Flo became loved for being a character with real character, keeping the public laughing. Progressive’s business doubled over the decade since Flo’s debut, so it isn’t difficult to see the reasons for her longevity. She brought some much-needed humanisation of the sometimes intimidating or faceless world of insurance.

Mahi FX pitting you against John Paulson

Forex trading is an industry that can often send people running. It’s distant and arcane to many observers, so a spot of gamification into the launch of Mahi FX’s online trading platform was certainly notable.

Mahi FX created an interactive web space that works out how long it would take ‘super-trader’ John Paulson to earn your annual income. You enter your salary into the provided answer box and it provides you with the outstanding facts and stats on just how much this guy can make through trading. It apparently takes him just 10.7 minutes to rack up $100,000 in earnings. Wild!

To make trading all the more attractive, the page also gives you figures on how much John will have earned during the time you’ve lingered on the page, as well as the supposed fact that the South Pacific nation of Fiji could be yours if you ever one day get on Paulson’s earning level – an eye-watering $4.9 billion a year.


So, there you have it. The financial services sector can do disruptive marketing and when they do, it’s pretty memorable. Finance is a pretty serious business, but if you can strike the balance of being entertaining and most importantly of all, human, whilst maintaining the utmost professionalism and trust, then you’re surely onto a winner.