MetaMarkets Investments of San Francisco, launched its first advertising campaign, employing a lighthearted theme, over the July Fourth weekend.
Called "Pledge," the television spot shows a dozen men and women, of a variety of ages and occupations, reciting a line from the Pledge of Allegiance.
The words of the pledge are those of the original text, until the end of the first sentence, when MetaMarkets inserts its novel notion of transparent funds.
The text says: "I pledge allegiance to the flag, of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice . . . and a transparent mutual fund where trades are posted in real time on the Internet and whose fund managers actually let you see what, in God's name, they're doing with your money. For all."
The mutual fund referred to is MetaMarket's 10-month-old, new economy Open Fund, which posts trades as they are made on the Internet at www.metamarkets.com. The site also encourages investors to post their opinions about the fund's activity on a message board. A camera trained on the fund adviser's trading floor also provides images that are posted at the site. As of July 11, the fund was up 87.86 percent since its inception Aug. 31, 1999 and had attracted $35 million in assets, according to David Nadig, executive vice president at MetaMarkets.
MetaMarkets waited until its sole fund had been on the market for nearly a year before it began advertising in order to "get the firm established" and have an infrastructure sufficiently developed to support the additional traffic the advertisements could bring, said Duff Ferguson, a spokesperson for the company.
The ad is currently running on CNBC. A print version is running in Barron's, Bloomberg Personal Finance, Technology Investor and Mutual Fund magazine. MetaMarkets plans to expand the campaign to other business-focused cable stations and is working on the script for another television spot, also employing the twist on the pledge, Nadig said.
The company hopes its advertising campaign will draw attention to the fact that it allows investors to see trades as they are made, Nadig said. MetaMarkets also wanted to use a touch of humor, Nadig said.
"Hopefully, it's not dot-com funny," said Nadig. "We tried to avoid gerbils flying out of cannons because we actually have what we think is a valid message, a concept of transparency that we are trying to convey. Then again, you can't just stand up there on a screen and preach."
MetaMarkets and its advertising agency, Butler, Shine & Stern of San Francisco, thought of putting a twist on the Pledge of Allegiance because Nadig and his partner Donald Luskin believe in investors' rights to know what they are invested in, Nadig said.
"We started thinking about what people associate with belief systems, and pledges and oaths came into play," Nadig said. "Don and I are also big believers in what this country could be and we are both Libertarians."
Butler, Shine & Stern decided that MetaMarkets' advertisement should emphasize the fund's most prominent quality - the immediate disclosure of its holdings, said Greg Stern, president of Butler, Shine & Stern.
MetaMarket's advertising budget for 2000 is $7 million, up from zero last year, said Ferguson.