(Reuters) - So long, Jack McCoy, hello Jason Bourne.
TD Ameritrade has decided to replace its longtime frontman and Law & Order star Sam Waterston. His replacement: Matt Damon.
The star of the ‘Bourne’ movie franchise signed a multi-year deal to become the new voice of TD Ameritrade as the discount brokerage seeks to refresh its brand.
“Our old advertising worked well, but it was getting a little bit tired,” Fred Tomczyk, chief executive of TD Ameritrade, told Reuters in an interview.
The two stars couldn’t be more different.
Waterston, 71, a Shakespearean actor who also spent 18 years as a small screen star playing district attorney Jack McCoy in the Law & Order series, exudes an old-school charm.
Meanwhile, Damon, 41, made his mark on the big screen in movies such as ‘Good Will Hunting’ -- the screenplay for which he won an Academy Award -- ‘Saving Private Ryan’ and more recently, the action-packed, assassin-turned-good-guy Bourne series. He was named People’s Sexiest Man Alive in 2007.
Tomczyk said Waterston had been a “fantastic” spokesman, particularly through the financial crisis, with his steady, no-nonsense delivery, but the company decided to go in a different creative direction to better distinguish itself from competitors.
Waterston, who once played physicist Robert Oppenheimer in a television mini-series about the father of the atomic bomb, had been the face and voice of TD Ameritrade and predecessor firm TD Waterhouse USA since 2003.
The new ads come about six months after TD Ameritrade hired ad agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in July, ending a 14-year relationship with Ogilvy Mather Worldwide, a unit of
Phillip Bowman, chief marketing officer at TD Ameritrade, said he could not disclose the length of the contract with Damon, but said it was “many years.” Unlike Waterston, Damon will not appear in TD Ameritrade’s commercials but instead will play the part of narrator.
Bowman said Damon was an easy pick among the six or seven well-known actors who were considered for the role.
“He’s probably one of the most talented and recognizable voices in the world right now, and we want every edge we can get for the campaign,” Bowman said.
In recent years, E*Trade Financial has garnered a lot of attention with its popular talking babies commercials, including one that ended in a lawsuit filed by Lindsay Lohan.
TD Ameritrade is the second largest discount broker by assets, after Charles Schwab Corp, but ahead of E*Trade.
Damon, who narrated the 2010 movie about the financial crisis, ‘Inside Job,’ also once played an oil analyst in ‘Syriana.’ He plans to donate the money he makes from the ads to charity, as Waterston did before him, Bowman said.
The first of the new commercials, called “Common Sense,” airs on Monday. The spot combines live action and animation with Damon’s voice in the background promoting TD Ameritrade’s investment consultants with a calm, straight-forward delivery.
An ad featuring the company’s online trading platform will follow. The campaign also will include print and online ads.
TD Ameritrade has spent around $250 million on marketing and advertising in each of the past two years.
Bowman said spending in 2012 would increase slightly because of this year’s Olympics in London. The company is a sponsor of the U.S. Olympic Team. Overall advertising and marketing will be between $245 million to $285 million for the year.
The new ads featuring Damon's voice will run on national television networks along with various cable networks, including CNBC, ESPN, TNT, and the History Channel, and can also be viewed here
Reporting by John McCrank in New York; Editing by Walden Siew