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Schwab Talk To Chuck' Campaign Launches: Firm Stresses How its Reps Guide Investors in the Spirit of Charles Schwab

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Charles Schwab of San Francisco has launched a new, multimedia national advertising campaign called "Talk to Chuck." The campaign, which debuted this month and is budgeted for $30 million in the fourth quarter, is an attempt to emphasize that the firm is willing to listen to the needs of investors and that investors can safely place their trust in Schwab for help with their retirement needs.

Glen Mathison, a Schwab spokesman, noted that "investors have grown increasingly confused about the differences between firms, and the marketplace is cluttered with financial services advertising that all looks the same. Conditions in the marketplace really called for something new and different."

Schwab Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Becky Saeger said that before launching the campaign, Schwab conducted market research and found that "while investors see little difference between financial service firms, Schwab still stands out. There's a tremendous amount of trust and equity built up in our name."

Thus, Schwab's new campaign aims to build on that inherent trust, with Schwab founder Charles Schwab himself assuring individual investors that each of his reps will treat them as a "straight-talking voice that will guide you, advise you and support you."

The campaign also stresses that Schwab is offering investors personal service and investing insight without charging any account service fee, which it began waiving Oct. 1. The ads note this is a great deal when compared to TD Waterhouse and Merrill Lynch Direct, which both charge account service fees of $100, and E*Trade, which charges $160.

The print component, which began running in national newspapers last Wednesday, showcases a letter from Schwab, telling investors, "In your quest to find someone you can trust with your hard-earned money, your kid's money or your grandkid's money, it all comes down to this: Who can you talk to? And who will actually listen?

"I'm Chuck Schwab, and I've built my entire company based on listening to people first. Then talking. Talk to Chuck' is our promise to you that when you pick up the phone, go online or simply walk into a Schwab branch, you're speaking to someone who does business the way I do."

The campaign was created by New York-based Euro RSCG Worldwide. "In creating the new advertising campaign," said Euro RSCG Worldwide CEO David Jones, "it was imperative that we communicate that the values and dynamism that Charles Schwab, the man, personifies are shared and delivered upon by every employee of the company. In a category that is full of a lot of impersonal companies speaking at customers, here is a company that is making a clear statement that they will listen."

Saeger noted that the campaign's media plan goes beyond just print and TV ads to include outdoor and Internet advertisements, branch signage, marketing collateral materials and client and prospect communications. PHD USA of New York was responsible for this media plan.

The print ads also address many of the questions that investors have today including:

* Think you've got a dog in your portfolio? We'll not only help you find it, we'll help you fix it.

* There are 17,000 mutual funds out there. How about seven that are right for me?

In one of the 15-second television commercials, headlines move across the screen, describing Schwab as the "talking type." In the 30-second commercial, investors are shown having conversations with Schwab representatives. The TV spots will run during prime-time season premieres and specials, NFL and college football games, major league baseball games and on many cable networks.

Outdoor ads will appear on billboards, taxis, bus shelters, kiosks, commuter railroads and airports, as well as on coffee sleeves in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

As for the online commercials, Schwab will advertise on its own Web site as well as major Web portals, including Yahoo!, AOL, MSN and CNN.

Prior to launching this campaign nationwide, Schwab tested it for six months in Houston, Denver and Chicago, where the firm saw both increases in the number of accounts and asset levels.

The last major campaign Schwab launched was early last year, focused on a set of services Schwab calls "personal choice."

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