Memorable campaigns

Let's talk.

“Let’s Talk”

“Let’s Talk” was introduced in the early 1970s as an invitation to customers to discuss the bank’s products and services – mortgages, loans, travel services, and more. The campaign was a reflection of the bank’s customer-centric philosophy, and its focus on finding new ways to address the needs, wants, and aspirations of Bank of Montreal customers. The radio advertising campaign featured the voice of Leslie Nielsen, a popular actor and comedian of the day.

“My Bank” for students

In the 1950s Bank of Montreal ran a series of illustrated ads for students that relied on a decidedly youthful sense of humour. Fictional characters Clara Nette (music student), Ivan Nastikoff (medical student) and Lotta Hache (home economics student) helped communicate the idea that whatever your career or life aspiration, “a big step on the road to success is an early banking connection.”

1817: First ad

The bank’s very first advertisement, published in 1817, was understated, to say the least. It announced Montreal Bank’s intentions to begin operations on “Monday, the 3rd of November next.”

It is Possible

The slogan “It is Possible” was introduced in May 1994, accompanied by the launch of The Possibility Network, which offered free consulting for both customers and non-customers. The service provided personalized information packages to people based on their specific circumstances or financial goals. This extraordinary initiative underlined the many ways the bank could help unlock new possibilities for individuals and communities. Appreciated for its boldness and willingness to break the banking mould, the campaign was an instant hit.

Watch an “It is Possible” commercial.

 

Arash’s Day Off & Catherine’s Dream

Social media has provided BMO with an opportunity to tell more in-depth, true-to-life stories about our customers, and what we mean when we say, “We’re here to help.”

Asking for help isn’t always easy. We stepped outside of our branches to give one small business customer, one very big surprise.

Life is full of surprises. We stepped outside of the branch again to help make our customer Catherine’s dream come true.

Making of BMO Harris on Ice

Ever wonder how a BMO commercial gets made? Watch “Making of BMO Harris Bank on Ice”.

Instabank

The Instabank machine was a significant innovation in customer convenience, providing 24/7 access to automated banking services including cash deposits and withdrawals, bill payments, money transfers and more.

Watch the Instabank Blue commercial.

 

The BMO Effect

“The BMO Effect” campaign aims to show people who are not BMO customers the uniquely human experience of banking with BMO. Watch “The BMO Effect” commercial.

Doing more for you

In April 1985, the bank launched a nationwide campaign with a new slogan: “Doing more for you” which reflected a major transformation in the way the bank served its customers. The campaign and slogan were focused on letting customers know that the bank could evolve with their needs.

1957: Savings characters

Ham the Traveling Clam, Hector the Squirrely Collector and Hinchcliff the Eager Beaver were three of several characters who taught Harris customers the importance of savings, beginning in 1957.

Early Harris ad: 1890

Harris published one of its first ads in 1890 announcing the issue of municipal bonds.

Early M&I ad: 1847

An M&I ad from 1847 features a lean list of bank offerings, which includes “Certificates of Deposite, bought and sold, on liberal terms.”

Early Harris ads

Harris ads through the years reflect the changing times.

Early M&I ads

Early M&I ads educated customers on managing their money.

 

Establishing an identity

Bringing Hubert to Life

Leo Burnett created Hubert, but it was Chicago-area artist Sam Koukios (1929–2009) who standardized Hubert’s look. Koukios was the official Hubert artist for more than three decades, working on almost every advertising campaign featuring Hubert. Upon Koukios’s death in 2009, Senior Marketing Executive Justine Fedak eulogized him as the artist who “brought so much character” to the lion.

With the launch of a new post-war marketing campaign, a new “My Bank” logomark took centre stage. The Bank of Montreal name temporarily took a secondary position in the brand hierarchy – a symbolic distancing from the traditional bank culture that customers were ready to leave behind. In this same spirit of post-war informality, bank employees also began referring to it as the “B of M” rather than the Bank of Montreal.

Being “first” in Canada has long been a source of pride for people at BMO. The line “Canada’s first bank” began appearing in the window of bank branches in 1950, and was adopted as the standard sign-off in our advertising.

In 1967, when the “M-bar” logo was launched, the tagline became an official part of the brand. Later, when a vibrant blue was adopted in place of green as the bank’s official colour, it immediately became known as “First Bank Blue.”

In 1975, Bank of Montreal became the principal tenants of a new 72-story office tower in the heart of Toronto’s financial district at the corner of King and Bay Streets. It was named First Bank Tower, and later changed to First Canadian Place.

The BMO Roundel

We call it the BMO roundel. It came into general use in 2002, when the bank decided it was the right time to bring all its businesses under a unified BMO Financial Group brand. At the time, BMO was operating more than 30 lines of business, including Harris Bank and BMO Nesbitt Burns. The move to a shared identity signalled a renewed commitment to serving customers as a single, diversified North American bank.

What’s a “bee-mo”?

Ever wonder where the name “BMO” comes from? It’s the bank’s stock ticker symbol on the Toronto and New York Stock Exchanges. For decades, “bee-mo” was how investment industry insiders commonly referred to the bank. So it was the natural choice when considering a new name to join the companies and lines of business together – BMO Financial Group.

 

Sponsorships

The Terry Fox Story

Bank of Montreal helped bring Terry Fox’s inspiring life story to the silver screen. The bank was the corporate sponsor of the Canadian-produced movie, The Terry Fox Story, which tells the story of the national hero who ran across Canada to raise money and awareness for cancer research. Fox raised more than $23 million for cancer research through his Marathon of Hope, and over the years more than $650 million has been raised in his name. Tragically, Fox’s run ended 3,339 miles into his journey, when he faced medical complications. His cancer had returned, and he passed away at the age of 22.

The bank hosted the movie’s premier in Toronto in the Spring of 1983, and also hosted regional premiers across Canada, which raised funds for cancer research.

Magnificent Mile Lights Festival

BMO is the presenting sponsor of the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival®. For 50 years, the trees along North Michigan Avenue have been illuminated to signal the official kick-off of the holiday season in Chicago and around the nation. With the help of over 800 volunteers, this festival encourages everyone to join in the spirit of the holiday season and enjoy a host of festive experiences along The Magnificent Mile®.

Montreal en Histoire

In 2017, Montreal celebrates its 375th birthday. BMO has shared in that rich history since the bank opened for business on Saint Paul Street in 1817. So when plans were unveiled for Montréal en Histoires, a series of creative projects exploring the city’s past, BMO was pleased to sponsor the initiative’s three main components:

  • Cité Mémoire is a series of projections in the old city celebrating key historical themes.
  • These multimedia tableaux are complemented by a mobile app that supports an interactive walking tour.
  • Play with history is a suite of educational activities about Montreal.

 

Chicago Bulls

BMO has been the official bank of the Chicago Bulls since 2007. The relationship represents the largest banking partnership in Bulls history. The bank and the team have worked together on a variety of community initiatives, including a partnership with the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago’s Urban Warriors program, which connects military veterans with youth who have experienced trauma or violence.

Chicago Blackhawks

BMO’s sponsorship of the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks began in 2007. The bank’s partnership with the Blackhawks has seen the team win the Stanley Cup three times – in 2010, 2013, and 2015. This sponsorship is a key part of the bank’s overall efforts to support Chicago’s leading organizations and community.

Milwaukee Bucks

BMO is the sponsor of the Milwaukee Bucks. The bank also has the naming rights for the BMO Harris Bradley Center, the home of the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team, and worked with the team on an initiative to establish a BMO Harris Boys and Girls Club section of the arena to support the community and broaden the fan base.

Polo for Heart

BMO sponsors Polo for Heart, which has brought together players from around the world to raise funds for heart and stroke charities for more than 35 years. This exciting event features two international polo matches each day, as well as boutiques, a silent auction, half-time entertainment, the traditional champagne divot stomp, and a BMO Kids’ Zone.

Pride & Remembrance Run

BMO is the Presenting Sponsor of the Pride and Remembrance Run, an annual five-kilometre fundraising run/walk in support of LGBTQ+ charities in the Greater Toronto area. It has become an annual tradition, coinciding with Toronto’s Pride Week and promoting community spirit, goodwill, volunteerism and sportsmanship. The run is part of BMO’s continued commitment to promoting accessibility, inclusivity and equality in the workplace and the communities it serves.

Vancouver Marathon

BMO is the title sponsor of the BMO Vancouver Marathon. The event is Vancouver’s only marathon and is known as one of the top destination marathons in the world because of its renowned scenic views.  The run began with 32 finishers in 1972, and now welcomes nearly 17,000 runners from more than 60 countries every year.

Calgary Stampede

BMO has partnered with the Calgary Stampede since it held its first rodeo in 1912, and is proud to continue to be the “Official Bank of the Calgary Stampede.”

The Stampede is Alberta’s annual celebration of its Western heritage and agricultural roots. BMO’s extensive partnership with the event includes the naming rights to the BMO Centre trade and convention facility, as well as title sponsorship of the BMO Farm Family Awards, which honours the contribution of those working in the agriculture industry.

Another highlight of the 10-day Calgary Stampede is the BMO-sponsored Kids’ Zone, which focuses on family entertainment and western fun. BMO also hosts the Stampede’s Kids’ Day, which brings out more than 25,000 people for a free pancake breakfast and family entertainment.

NBA All-Star Game

BMO had a ball with their campaign for the 2016 NBA All-Star Game in Toronto. The bank created the BMO Ball Star, a talking basketball with an irreverent sense of humour. Through its interactions with fans and players, the Ball Star helped give people a unique, insider experience of the all-star game. The campaign was a hit, and BMO brought the Ball Star back for its Raptors sponsorship campaign later in 2016.

Toronto Raptors

BMO is the official bank of the Toronto Raptors NBA franchise. The bank’s brand has a strong presence at the team’s games, appearing in the Air Canada Centre and on broadcasts of Raptors games. BMO also sponsors the Raptors 905, the newest member of the NBA Development league. These sponsorships build on a long-time partnership between BMO and Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment.

BMO Welcomes the NBA All-Stars with 10-foot-tall ATM

As the sponsor of the first NBA All-Star Game played in Canada, BMO wanted to make a really big impression. That’s why the bank installed a 10-foot-tall ATM at the main branch at First Canadian Place location in Toronto. The ATM also appeared at Vancouver’s main branch, and NBA Legend James Worthy paid the massive machine a visit. A message written on the towering device made its meaning clear: “The NBA All-Stars Are Coming.”

The Ski Bank

In the 1970s, Bank of Montreal was known to many as the “Ski Bank.” The bank was the presenting sponsor of Bank of Montreal International World Cup Skiing, bringing together the best skiers in the world to compete for the championship title. Canadian Olympian and world renowned skier Nancy Greene won the women’s World Cup two years in a row (1967-1968), and became the face of Bank of Montreal’s Ski Bank. The bank encouraged customers to get active in the cold winter months by offering a “Ski Account,” as well as affordable skiing packages and BMO-produced materials offering advice related to the sport.

Spruce Meadows

BMO is a founding sponsor of Spruce Meadows, Canada’s premier equestrian show jumping facility. In addition, the bank has supported equestrian sports for more than forty years in a variety of ways, including individual rider sponsorships and the development of international team competition through the BMO Nations’ Cup, which is awarded every year at the Masters’ Tournament at Spruce Meadows. BMO has also proudly supported Canadian Equestrian Team member and Olympic record holder Ian Millar for more than 25 years.

A visually rich tribute to Canada’s first bank, A Vision Greater than Themselves: The Making of the Bank of Montreal, 1817-2017 by Laurence B. Mussio tells the compelling story of the bank from its origins to present day.

Visit the McGill Queen’s University Press site
to order your copy.

BMO is a presenting sponsor of the Montréal en Histoires project, celebrating the 375th anniversary of Montreal and BMO’s bicentennial. The sponsorship includes a variety of technology-driven projects and a mobile app.

Visit the Montréal en Histoires site to learn more.


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