#MarketingExcellenceAwards highlight: X marks the spot for Standard Chartered


Bringing home the silver for Excellence in Media Strategy is Standard Chartered along with its agency Carat. While Standard Chartered has a long history in Singapore dating back to 1859 and is highly regarded for its stability as a financial institution, it can sometimes be dismissed as a traditional, old school bank.

In July 2019, Standard Chartered launched the new X Card targeted to affluent travel enthusiasts with a unique and simplified system to earn and redeem their travel-related rewards no other bank or fintech has offered. With the new card, acquisition was the primary campaign objective, but there was also an urgent need to capture attention.


A challenge the bank faced is in winning over affluent millennials who thrive in the promise of convenience and technology. It also competes with several local players in the Singapore market.

With the new card, the brand wanted to focus on experience-seeking, affluent Singaporean millennials who have increased their spending on travel more than any other demographic group. Specifically, the Bank wanted to reach a core audience of 25-35 year-olds who earn a monthly income of up to SG$12,000.


The bank noted that while key players compete in the travel category, consumers are often faced with complex terms and conditions and run into points fatigue when air miles take very long time to accumulate.

Up-and-coming fintech startups such as  Youtrip and Revolut also add competition to traditional banking businesses. As such, The X Card was born from the insight that travel enriches one with eXciting, eXhilarating and eXquisite experiences. The creative strategy was then to translate “X” onto the card design and use it as the mnemonic for the campaign to drive recall.

Working closely with the creative agency, the campaign launched in two phases.

Phase 1: A two week teaser

The media strategy was drawn up that banked heavily on creating targeted awareness among potential users using non-traditional media executions. A first for the bank and the category, an unbranded teaser video campaign ran on digital and social, anchoring on the interesting “X” mnemonic and a hint at the welcome offer of 100,000 miles. These were made clickable to complement the end frame driving users to an online waitlist to register interest.

An “X” installation was also deployed in upscale, high-traffic hangouts to pique curiosity among affluent millennials. This was amplified on social media with the help of handpicked macro and micro influencers who were prominent in the affluent millennials’ social sphere. The team also collaborated with bloggers whose websites were seen as experts in travel hacking.

Apart from visiting the “X” installation, influencers were sent a welcome pack to use as content for “unboxing-style” videos on Instagram. The bank also extended exclusive early access to card applications for the bloggers’ followers, giving an additional boost to the waitlist. All these drove buzz even before the campaign and card applications started

Phase 2: Launch

With the added motivation of the 100,000 miles limited welcome offer, an edgy black-and-white film was featured on large-format LED screens in high traffic areas, ensuring maximum awareness. Follow-through placements on online teaser platforms provided continuity to the X-Card narrative.

Users exposed to the teaser video were retargeted with the launch video, prompting further consideration and actual card application. Additional prospecting strategies were aligned with the lifestyle of its audience, hyper-targeting those searching for travel-related keywords and travel intenders, while maintaining broader presence on key travel portals.

Correspondingly, macro and micro-influencers drove further consideration by posting what travel means to them, encouraging followers to “swipe up” and sign up. The bloggers also gave in-depth reviews of the card’s features, lending a trusted opinion.

All of the offline and online activity drove audiences to the product page of the X Card, where they could find out about the privileges and sign up. The campaign’s media touchpoints laddered up to an overall approach of positioning the X Card as the ultimate and most desirable card for an Affluent Millennial’s travel experience.

Guerilla-style marketing using on-ground installation, and influencer outreach are not the first activities that come to mind when it comes to an acquisition-driven campaign. However, with the need to build hype and excitement about yet another card launch, creative executions were necessary in the teaser campaign planning.

Affluent millennial hangouts were choicefully selected based on footfall and demographic profiling data from agency research and outdoor partners. The 3 macro and 3 micro-influencers were selected based on an internal scorecard agreed upon by the client, creative and media agencies to ensure relevance to the target audience. A two-pronged approach was used, wherein macro-influencers would capture a wider base of the audience while micro-influencers would lend authenticity with higher engagement rates among their followers.

Across teaser and launch phases, the selection of digital channels was based on platform ability to target bespoke affluent segments using a combination of first party and third party audience data to address both awareness and acquisition objectives.


The strategy proved to be successful with the affluent millennials with awareness and interest hitting 100% above target through the combination of online and offline media, influencers and bold creatives.

Waitlist sign up targets were met just within 10 days – much earlier than expected while the acquisition KPI was set for the financial year was hit within just 3.5 weeks.