Historically known to cater to an older customer base (A35+), BMO Harris has had trouble driving adoption against Millennials.  As a group beginning their first real relationship with a bank, BMOHB knew it was important to connect with this audience to drive current business goals, and foster future growth.

To add to the challenge, only 20% of BMOHB’s accounts are registered online since the majority of customers prefer to come in-branch (yes, even Millennials).

To tackle this challenge, a partnership was forged with The Onion, and they set out change customer perception by promoting their extensive mobile offerings to this tough to please audience by leaning into the power of humor.


With a growing trend of banks (and brands in general) attempting to lure Millennials through shameless pandering, BMOHB saw an opportunity… to do the exact same thing.  But, what made this campaign special was that BMOHB was in on the joke, which goes a long way with Millennials and ultimately helped skyrocket brand infinity.

Though the ultimate campaign goal was to increase Awareness & Consideration among Millennials, a balance needed to be maintained to deliver against the secondary goal of driving customer acquisition for short-term business results.


RM led BMOHB and The Onion in development of a custom video series that parodied new, ridiculous (fake) features in its mobile app that make no sense for a bank, but Millennials are known for using in other apps.  In each video, a new and ridiculous (satirical) feature added to the app was “promoted.”

These included a photo filter that make turned a user’s face into an ATM, the option to book an overnight stay in a bank (Airbnb) vault, as well as a dating feature allowing users to swipe right based on how attractive their Checking accounts appear.

This content was served across The Onion’s owned and operated properties, as well as BMO Harris’ social sites creating a multi-touchpoint messaging strategy with frequency caps carefully set in place.  To ensure acquisition goals were being met as well, users were then retargeted with Facebook Offer ads, allowing Millennials to come into the bank to claim $200 when signing up for qualifying Checking accounts.


The campaign resulted in record-breaking brand lift study results across Nielsen Partnered Studies done by both The Onion and BMO Harris.  Given the objective of the campaign was to drive Awareness/Consideration, this was seen as a big success.

Also, by serving as the “upper funnel” support for Checking acquisition, the campaign drove some of the strongest conversion results to date for BMOHB as users exposed to The Onion videos drove a 20% higher, and 14% more efficient, Conversion Rate than those who weren’t.

Brand Lift Study Results:

The Onion (Nielson Brand Effectiveness Study)

  • +16 point lift in Brand Affinity – 220% higher lift than average lift (5 point avg.)
  • +14 point lift in Purchase Intent 250% higher lift than average lift (4 point avg.)
  • +13 point lift in Recommendation Intent 550% higher lift than average lift (2 point avg.)
  • +4 point lift in Brand Familiarity 33% higher lift than average lift (3 point avg.)

BMO Harris (Nielson Brand Lift Study)

  • +16 point lift in Ad Recall – Delta outperformed 94% of comparable studies
  • +6 point lift in Consideration – Delta outperformed 96% of comparable studies

Media Delivery, Engagement and Performance:

  • Campaign drove 61.7MM impressions and 7.6MM Video Views within 7 weeks
  • Videos shared via Onion Lab’s had a 66% higher View Rate, 146% higher Video Completion Rate, and 600% higher Social engagement rate compared to their FI benchmarks
  • Using the content as Upper Funnel support for Line of Business campaigns resulted in:
    • 20% higher volume of Conversions
    • 14% more efficient Cost-per-Conversion

Ultimately, the campaign not only drove Consideration for the BMOHB among the target, but drove benchmark breaking metrics across the board.

Most importantly, the campaign featured quality content that wasn’t watered down and truly established a new voice for the brand— building a proven following among young adults, and setting the stage for continued success.