Ice-Breaker

What We Did

  • Brand Activation
  • Visual Identity
  • Custom Typeface Design
  • Packaging Design
  • Campaign

Overview

An innovative brand lacking market penetration.

IEX needed to increase awareness for their brand. Despite (and perhaps in part because of) being the main focus of Michael Lewis’s bestselling but controversial book Flash Boys, IEX had virtually zero market penetration. Which was odd since they were an innovative new company that was trying to do some good in the trading world. IEX was originally founded to prevent unfair advantages enjoyed by many high frequency trading (HFT) firms.


IEX also possessed a secret weapon: a unique tech that allowed for more consistent liquidity. (In financial terms liquidity essentially means the degree to which a stock can be bought or sold without impacting its price). In fact, IEX lays claim to having more liquidity than any other exchange service in the market. A notable selling point we were eager to leverage.


Embracing a Beer Market

“Hey, let’s make a beer” … is typically one of those smart ass brainstorms that gets casually floated by Carl the intern at every creative kickoff and promptly rejected. Especially when the client is in the financial services industry and has no obvious reason to make a beer, Carl. But when IEX came to Goods & Services to look into ways of increasing brand awareness, wouldn’t you know it, by god this time Carl was on to something.


Other than the thrill of gains, apparently there are fewer things stockbrokers love more in the world than beer. It’s the perfect end of the day wind down. It’s a great team building lubricant. And, as it turned out, IEX’s CEO Ronan Ryan is a huge beer connoisseur who has stocked every IEX office kitchen to the rafters with various kinds of craft brews. So when IEX hired us to be their creative team, we sat down with their CMO, Kate Gunning, to dig into the factors at play. As we considered IEX’s desired goals and the creative challenges and possible solutions for each, ultimately “Let’s make a beer” started to make a lot of sense. Making a beer was a clever way to literally put that liquidity into people’s hands and create a tangible (some would add delicious) good out of an intangible, decidedly flavorless idea.


“Creating a beer gave Ronan and his team a unique way to speak to people about IEX’s market advantages. By simply creating a beer we created something much bigger. A conversation.”

Graham Engebretsen, Managing Partner at Goods & Services


The Work

We had some heavy lifting to do. We needed a name, a visual identity, a complete packaging system, and a roll out strategy. All while navigating the Covid pandemic.


We also needed a style of beer. For that we invited a handful of clients and friends to a taste testing to help us decide what that style might be. After everyone tasted numerous samples and all the votes were tallied, we decided on a delicately balanced, hops forward and citrus-y IPA that we called Liquidity.


Football's Favorite Sunday

To expand that conversation further, Gunning had the genius idea to leverage the beer’s momentum into a Super Bowl commercial. But without the multi-million dollar budget of most Super Bowl advertisers, and with just two weeks before the game, we knew we needed to get clever and fast. Ultimately we decided to create two online videos cheekily touting Liquidity beer’s “hops and smooth taste,” but also its “high participation rates, block percentage, and minimal slippage.” All while advising viewers to “Stock up responsibly.”


We then hand delivered the beer in IEX branded Yeti coolers, to key clients including Goldman Sachs, UBS, J.P.Morgan, Jefferies, and others.


“There are a lot of creative groups out there, but Goods & Services is the only one I know that actually creates real tangible things. They’re smart enough to think of industry disrupting ideas, services, and campaigns, but also savvy and entrepreneurial enough to get things made. That’s extremely rare and a huge advantage for what we were trying to do at IEX.”

Kate Gunning, CMO at IEX



The Results

IEX’s main goals were to raise awareness and increase positive sentiment toward the company, and this campaign accomplished both of those in new and surprising ways.


When Liquidity launched it made an immediate splash in the financial industry. Not only did Liquidity beer create a surprising and buzzworthy product to raise awareness for IEX, it also gave Ronan and other IEX leaders a tangible good to speak to their liquidity edge in the market. Plus, what’s more fun to share with clients and peers than your own home brew? Essentially Liquidity beer was the best conversation starter possible.


On the media side, Superbowl ads drove more than twenty-thousand organic Youtube hits with no promotion later, and 1 million views across email blasts and social media. The Liquidity beer story was covered by Adweek in a series of articles. And, as a data point, Gunning says when she joined IEX in 2019, it was trading stocks valued at $10 billion a day. Today that’s up to $20 billion a day. But, as she adds, perhaps most important and telling, these days “people are calling us a lot more.”


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