Next time you drive along I-70 near Idaho Springs, you’ll see an eye-catching billboard encouraging smart investing. That’s due to a new collaboration between the Colorado Division of Securities and students in the College of Media, Communication and Information.
The educational campaign messaging and strategy—with the tagline “Protect Your Investments Like You Protect Your Adventures”—launched recently and is aimed at helping new investors find resources to protect their assets.
A proliferation of trading platforms on apps and interest in investing in tokens on the blockchain led to a wave of new investors being drawn into capital markets in 2020. Research from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority shows these new investors are younger, more diverse, more tech savvy and more risk tolerant. However, they also have lower incomes and bank balances, and are less knowledgeable about safe investing, according to FINRA.
The campaign messaging embraces the adventurous spirit embodied by young Coloradans and was developed by a team of CU Boulder students and supported by a $120,000 grant from the Investor Protection Trust, a national nonprofit organization devoted to investor education.
“The Colorado Division of Securities is tasked with protecting investors, but it was clear that the organization didn't have an avenue for communicating with this new audience. I saw this as a great opportunity for our students to use the skills they've developed in their major to solve a problem for the organization and make an impact in the state,” said Assistant Professor Jolene Fisher in CMCI’s Department of Advertising, Public Relations and Media Design (APRD).
Throughout spring 2022, students researched the client, the issue and the target audience, and then developed and pitched their campaigns to securities Commissioner Tung Chan, Division of Securities staff and APRD facultyb who chose one of the four campaigns for implementation. The collaboration gave the APRD students, who have since graduated, the chance to put the skills they learned in the classroom to work to address a real issue in their peer group and to make a difference for Coloradans starting their investment journey.
After graduating in May 2022, team member Makayla Karas was hired by the Colorado Division of Securities to help launch the project.
“It’s been nearly a year of hard work leading up to this moment and it feels surreal to have a billboard that I helped create going up on one of the busiest roads in Colorado,” Karas said. “I can’t wait to drive out there, sit in traffic with my friends and family, and have the opportunity to reflect on the hard work it took to get there.”
Chan said the innovations driving new, younger investors to the capital markets exist in a faster, high-tech, risk-tolerant world with billions at stake.
“How can the message of safe investing compete if regulators aren't speaking the language and meeting these investors where they are?” Chan said. “We knew something had to be done and we knew we needed help to do it right. Many of the students were in our target audience. They could relate. They did the research and they came up with professional campaigns with unexpected, creative messaging and channels of distribution.”