A glitzy multimedia component is part of a new ad campaign that load shop Pioneer Investment Management of Boston, Mass., has just unveiled. The thrust of the campaign, whose heading could simply be called "Trust," is to encourage investors whose nerves have been frayed by corporate scandals and rocky markets to turn to trusted financial advisers.
The campaign, which will include Web, television, print and video media, debuted with a Sept. 10 ad in The Wall Street Journal.
Pioneer officials said the campaign is intended to tell investors that they can get help at a time when scandals and choppy markets have shattered their faith in equity investing.
"In an environment where trust on Wall Street is in question, it's important that the relationship that [investors] have with their adviser is the most important thing that they can look to," said Dan Geraci, Pioneer's CEO.
The first ad of the campaign, which ran last week in The Journal's Money & Investing section, included the tagline, "Trust advice. Trust your advisor." The tagline is at the bottom of the page. Above are the words: "For 74 years, Pioneer Fund has outperformed the S&P." The ad includes a chart showing the growth of the firm's flagship Pioneer Fund outpacing the S&P 500.
"When you have a mountain chart,' you want to put it out there," Geraci said. But, Geraci was quick to add, "People may like the fund, but if they're not talking to their adviser, they're not going to buy it."
Similar print ads will continue to run in other retail and trade publications, Pioneer said. The campaign also includes television spots on CNBC and the Golf Channel. The firm said it plans to sponsor the Ryder Cup as well as other pro golf events.
In addition, Pioneer has developed a set of Web marketing tools, called the Pioneer Advisor Web Series, that are targeted directly at financial advisers. Those materials include 26 new multimedia presentations, each 10 minutes in length, that are intended to help advisers build new business.
Web Not Dead
Geraci said the Web materials were spawned by his belief that fund companies are likely to lose their Web audiences as financial advisers turn to all-in-one computer systems, such as those from Stilwell-owned DST Systems of Kansas City, Mo., which provide data for funds from multiple complexes. Before those systems rose in popularity, fund companies found that much of their Web traffic came from advisers seeking fund data. Now, firms will have to turn to new Web content to keep the advisers coming back, Geraci said.
The Web components of the new campaign, he said, are designed to "reach out to advisers, instead of waiting for advisers to come to the site." Pioneer plans to send an e-mail to advisers, "making them aware of a portfolio manager's commentary. When they open it up, they'll jump to the site and get to this presentation," Geraci said.
The campaign comes at a time when, like other fund complexes, Pioneer's assets under management are slipping. Not including money markets, the firm's assets have slid 20% since 1999 to just more than $17.6 billion, according to Financial Research Corp. in Boston.
"Their equity funds are fair to middling," said Shannon Zimmerman, an analyst at Chicago-based Morningstar. Still, Zimmerman said the company's strategy makes sense, considering "this is a time when people are willing to pay for advice because the market is choppy."
Lisa Cohen, a financial services marketing consultant at The Collaborative in Medfield, Mass., said any campaign that drives investors toward advisers, where they can talk frankly about the markets, is a good thing.
"Hopefully it will help investors understand what is going on," she said. "There's a lot of confusion and misunderstanding. Talks are not as frequent as you would hope."