June 10th, 2016

Experian Humanizes Credit Scores in Heartwarming New Ad


Ace Metrix

Making credit scores into a topic that evokes emotion may have seemed like a fool’s errand in the past. Historically, companies like Experian and Credit Karma have relied heavily on humor as a vehicle in their advertising messages with relative success. Bringing levity to a subject many consider painful seems logical. These ads have proven to be innocuous and somewhat effective with consumers, but there hasn’t been a winning combination of breakthrough and relevance needed for ads to truly resonate.

That is, until last week when Experian’s latest ad, “Anthem” launched online as a :60 second spot (with a :30 version airing on national TV.) Created by The Martin Agency, “Anthem” delivers a relatable story about the importance of building good credit over a lifetime, making the concept of getting your credit score feel less like going to the dentist and more like a means to personal growth.

The opening voiceover tells us, “Everything you are pretty good at now, you were once, well, pretty bad at”, and is set to scenes of children honing everything from the most basic skills to learning to drive. It is an immediate attention-grabber, keeping viewers on the hook to see more. With an Ace Score of 612 (9% above category norm), “Anthem :60” is the highest-performing Experian ad measured by Ace Metrix and is tied with Credit Karma’s “Old Blue” for the highest Financial Services category score of the past 90 days. “Old Blue” relies on the previously mentioned element of humor in portraying a guy who desperately needs a new car and thusly needs to get his credit in order. Looking at both Ad Personalities below, we see Experian’s ad had much more pronounced Breakthrough components, Likeability and Attention, and slightly stronger Relevance.

   Experian “Anthem :60”                                               Credit Karma “Old Blue”

Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 12.59.44 PM

If Experian is trying to connect with younger consumers, as their message indicates, “Anthem” sees more success than the Credit Karma spot, with better performance across both the 21-35 and the 36-49 year-old groups. Looking at viewer comments from those 50+, we see some resistance to the concept of credit score companies, but they are more accepting of the Credit Karma ad, even finding it more relevant and perception-changing. Said one Female 50+ viewer of the Experian ad, “I am not a fan of credit cards or making purchases that depend on credit scores. I grew up with conservative values and was taught good money managing skills, that prepared me to treat credit responsibly.”

experian age scores good

In terms of overall performance for the brand, “Anthem :60” and the :30 version (Ace score 592) are tops among 17 Experian ads tested since 2014. In fact, only 3 of the 17 had Ace Scores above the category norm, with the rest averaging an Ace Score of 504. So it truly is a breakthrough for both brand and agency. It’s also worth noting that when combining Financial Services and Credit Card ads over the past 90 days, the only spot out of 42 ads to out-perform “Anthem” is Capital One’s Quicksilver ad “Gary,” featuring Samuel L. Jackson, which had a 4-point higher Ace Score (616.)

Now let’s look at what makes this ad truly successful, it’s emotional resonance. Through word-mining of viewer comments, we see that for “Anthem :60”, 29% of the emotional terms used are heartfelt, such as “touching”, “moving” and “heartwarming.” Words such as “funny”, “humorous”, and” laugh” only comprise 5% of the emotional language used. In contrast, Experian’s “Credit Swagger” spot from early 2015, breaks out at 36% humor and 5% heartfelt. That ad had a below-norm Ace Score of 501, and a Polarity Score of 57 (vs. 43 for “Anthem”.) Below are emotional word clouds for each ad:

Experian “Anthem :60”                                        

Experian Anthem Emotional Word Cloud

Experian “Credit Swagger”

Experian Credit Swagger Emo Cloud

To further illustrate the power of Experian’s creative, here are a few viewer comments:

  • “This is probably one of my favorite ads I’ve seen in a long time. It is brilliantly crafted. It pulls on the heartstrings of people in all seasons of life. (little kid scenes a plus!) It makes me want to go the the Experian website and check my credit score, even though I know it!” – Female, 36-49, South, 880 Ace Score
  • “Very heartwarming and relatable. I saw myself in that ad!” – Female, 21-35, Midwest, 749 Ace Score
  • “It’s a very positive and emotionally stirring message. I liked it a lot and I don’t say that about many commercials. Inspiring. Shows that credit, like learning does not necessarily start from a great place but over time can get to be great.” – Male, 36-49, West, 745 Ace Score

As brands in the Financial Services sector clamor for attention with humor and celebrities, it seems that appealing to consumers in a more relatable way will lead to success. It has certainly worked for Experian with this ad, though the ongoing need for a well-rounded campaign that includes informative, product-based messaging, along with emotional resonance, still exists. For now, we say nicely done Experian and we look forward to seeing what’s next.

See the ads here:



air date


Anthem :60


Other Financial Services



Old Blue

Credit Karma

Other Financial Services




Capital One

Credit Cards



Credit Swagger


Other Financial Services




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