As a start-up financial service, KOHO had little to no awareness and needed to launch in a very big way to gain the attention of a consumer base that has proven hard to wrestle away from their current financial provider. Trouble is, there have been many false starts with digital banks in recent years, all positioning themselves as ‘different’. In fact they all end up being the same because they are all owned by the big banks they claim to be disrupting. The bottom line is that Canadians trust their banks to keep their money safe but do not think their banks know them well enough to have their backs or sell them what’s actually good for them. Thus, the challenge was to convince people that KOHO is a different financial services company.
There’s an old joke about how banks are places that will lend you an umbrella but then ask for it back when it starts to rain. Banks prioritize themselves and their shareholders over their customers. If big banks are in the business of extracting value from your dreams, KOHO needed to show that it has the technology to rewrite that narrative. It also needed to drive home the message that we all do it together because the more people that join the platform, the smarter the system becomes and the more capable it becomes of servicing people it’s designed to serve. To get people to believe KOHO is truly different, the brand was going to need to do something very bold indeed, something that breaks the norms of advertising.
Thinking well outside the box, KOHO presented itself more as a gaming company than a Fintech player, believing that it has “gamed the system” by letting consumers manage their money at no cost by hacking together components to exist in the first place.
Rather than create the usual integrated campaign, the agency created a 13-minute film called ‘Dream Thieves’, which tells the company’s foundational story in a very provocative, stimulating way. The story of dream stealing unfolds with all the terror and suspense of The Matrix, or Poltergeist. Shot in the stark environs of massive apartment blocks on the outskirts of Kiev, the film takes one on the kind of intense ride one might experience when playing Call of Duty, Medal of Honour or Battlefield 3. Lots of night goggles, AR-15s and screaming dreamers. The film suggests that while banks routinely tell customers to dream big, they make it more difficult to achieve those dreams by imposing onerous fees on their services, like that $3 you just paid to withdraw a mere $60 from another bank’s ATM. By the end, the protagonist usurps the system with technology’s (i.e. KOHO’s) help. An explosion of colour heralds a new world order in which consumers hold all the power. To make such a bold statement, KOHO had the courage to spend almost 80% of its marketing budget on one film. That itself is a demonstration of the passion behind the bank’s customer-centred strategy.
DREAM THIEVES || Directed by Fleur Fortuné for KOHO