Mellon Financial Corp. launched an aggressive advertising campaign last week to highlight its new emphasis on asset management as a result of nearly a decade of restructuring, according to executives of the Pittsburgh-based financial services firm. Over the past 10 years, Mellon has divested itself of a banking division while concentrating more on asset management by acquiring such companies, according to executives of the firm.
The message of the new campaign, dubbed "Measurable Difference," stems from the mid-1990s when the firm gradually began ramping up its asset management business. Mellon's most significant asset management acquisition was Dreyfus, in 1994, but it also bought Boston Co., Founders Asset Management of Denver and Newton Investment Management of London.
In addition, Mellon sold a banking unit to Citizens Bank, which is owned by the Royal Bank of Scotland. That left Mellon devoid of any traditional banking services and loaded up with asset management firms.
"Our updated message reflects the new company we've become," Martin McGuinn, the company's CEO, said in a statement.
Mellon's campaign kicked off April 1 with a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal. The firm will continue to run weekly ads in the Journal, although most will be less expensive than the lavish, full-color page Mellon led off with in the Journal.
Mellon will also run print ads in other business publications through June, including Barron's, Business Week and Worth. The company will also run spots in U.K. and European publications including The Economist, Financial Times and Wall Street Journal Europe.
On the broadcast front, a series of TV spots will begin airing later this month. A second wave of the campaign is expected to launch in the fall.
Mellon says the ads are intended to emphasize that customers can easily discern between poorly performing firms and those that excel. Last Monday's ad shows a computer-generated photo that plays a trick on the eye. A man is standing in front of a wall of windows overlooking a city's skyline. From the windows to the left, the sun is rising over the city. To the right, the sun is setting.
The copy reads: "At the beginning of the day, it's all about possibilities. At the end of the day, it's all about results. And everything in between is about how we can help you get there." The tagline is, "The difference is measurable."
"The trick to this from the corporate side is to find something that explains and develops and enhances and leverages what Mellon is," said Peter Hayes, the firm's director of corporate marketing. "We felt the way to do that is to focus on this message that Mellon is really good at helping its customers achieve what they want."
Ric Edelman, a financial planner in Fairfax, Va., said Mellon's strategy is nothing new among mutual fund providers. "It's common for financial services companies to reinvent themselves, and when they do, it's very common to promote that in a very big way," he said. The reinvention of financial service firms has become so commonplace, Edelman added, that it's become "essential" not only to capturing market share, but also to retaining "the existing business that they have."
He cited the example of The Equitable changing its name to AXA Advisors. "They started promoting very heavily the fact that they have thousands of financial advisors with decades of background in the company," he said. There were also campaigns by American Express, which dropped its IDS brand and began pushing its asset management business under the American Express moniker, he said. And when Franklin purchased Templeton, the firm "made a very big push" to promote the notion that its product offerings had expanded, Edelman said.
John Picard, a principal at the marketing firm Picard & Co., of Murray Hill N.J., said firms such as Mellon are trying to build "relationship-driven" businesses that are designed to retain customers for years.
"Everyone is merging toward this common ground," he said, and many have gone Mellon's route in redefining themselves through acquisitions.
Still, the challenge with a branding campaign such as Mellon's, Picard said, is that each subsidiary company has to follow through with its own efforts to garner new business. "The real trick is how are [they] going to leverage it in their supplementary marketing?" he asked. "If they tie it into a business development program and a cross-selling program, then there's some real bang for their buck."
Mellon's Hayes said the firm tried to develop the campaign in such a way that it would not "interfere with some of the things that our other business lines were doing." Rather, he said, the campaign is designed not to influence the value proposition of any one specific firm, but point the audience in Mellon's general direction so that prospects will discover the services of Mellon's subsidiaries.
"What you're seeing is sort of the top layer," he said. "This campaign has several components."