Fifth Third Bancorp has begun its first advertising campaign focused on its mutual funds' performance and its skill at offering financial advice.

The Cincinnati banking company plans to spend $3 million on a television, print, radio, and direct mail campaign designed to brand Fifth Third as a quality investment house before retail investors return to stocks and equity funds, said Wil Daly, the chief marketing officer at Fifth Third.

"We want to be out ahead when [investors] decide to return" to the market, he said.

With the campaign--which began earlier this month and is scheduled to run through April 30--Fifth Third hopes to achieve 50% growth in mutual fund sales at its bank branches this year, he said.

Last year, the company noticed that its premier checking accounts were holding much more--an average of $38,000 per account--than the $20,000 usual in years past, Daly said. This suggested that big depositors were taking money out of stocks and mutual funds and waiting for the market to improve, he added.

The company hopes that a campaign touting performance and investment advice will keep Fifth Third depositors from going to a name-brand investment adviser when the market recovers, Daly said. "We don't think we should lose a customer to Fidelity or Schwab," he said.

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