To stand out from the proliferation of do-it-yourself and pure-digital plays in the financial services space, St. Louis-based Edward Jones has made face-to-face a key point-of-difference in its marketing position.
To extend it, the firm has launched a program under the aegis of its partnership with Major League Baseball: A digital platform that lets fans do live, face-to-face video chats with MLB players.
The digital platform, “Edward Jones Chatting Cage,” on MLB.com, extends Edward Jones' three-year-old “Face Time” campaign and its two-year relationship with MLB that supports it. The company, for example, has its name on such broadcast elements as “Face Time” interviews with players and coaches during the regular season.
The first "Edward Jones Chatting Cage" chats kick off Sept. 20 with Tyler Clippard, pitcher for the Washington Nationals. The company says each chat will last between 10 and 15 minutes with the player answering fan questions via live video, and the MLB Facebook page (Facebook.com/MLB) and Twitter (@MLB) (using the hashtag #chattingcage). To do the video part, fans just need a web cam. The fan, guest and host can see one other during the chat.
Fans who are chosen to ask a question can share their chats with real-time social media updates and videos after each session. Select transcripts from chats will also be featured on-air during relevant games.
Brad Iversen, Edward Jones CMO, in a statement that the program aligns with the company's brand proposition. "If you have a question, you should be able to look someone in the eye and ask it. While our clients have enjoyed this face-time experience for many years when it comes to managing their money, the Chatting Cage brings that opportunity to life for sports fans in a way they may never get to experience otherwise."
The program, developed with Edward Jones' AOR Chicago-based Cramer-Krasselt, will run the remainder of the regular season, the postseason, the World Series and the off-season through the end of the year. The chats are accessible through MLB.com or the official Club Web sites, which in the case of Thursday's chat would be nationals.com.
Kristin Fletcher, VP of agency comms at Cramer-Krasselt, says such a platform is Terra incognita for MLB, which brought in the digital firm TokBox to help develop and manage the platform. "And we had to work with MLB Advanced Media to develop the technology; Tokbox is helping out with the process of lining up the fans."
She explains that TokBox helps run a virtual queue of fans before the chat goes live. Users can click the “get in line” button to be added to the queue even as the live chat is happening.
"If you are on MLB.com, and click the link, you are on the line, she said, adding that if there are lulls, the moderator then takes the questions from Twitter and Facebook.
A moderator takes questions from social media and MLB.com. She notes that well before the 3 p.m. "Chatting Cage" event on Thursday, there were already questions streaming on Twitter, one of which was, simply: "Marry me." Which begs the question about the moderator's role in curating the event.
"As part of the screening process, fans will be asked what their question will be," she says. Fletcher adds that Edward Jones' on-air Face Time interviews will continue this season as well.