SunAmerica Mutual Funds of New York, a division of SunAmerica of Los Angeles, was to run its first TV commercial Sept. 12. The ads are called, "Where Do You Want to Be?" Until now, the fund division of SunAmerica has only done billboard advertising at commuter train and bus stations and at Yankee Stadium in New York. (MFMN 3/15/99)

SunAmerica funds got its first taste of the impact of television advertising indirectly, said Betsy Treitler, vice president of marketing and communications for SunAmerica. During this year's baseball season, the company placed a large, simple billboard at Yankee Stadium behind home plate, she said.

The billboard simply reads, "SunAmerica Mutual Funds," and is in the Yankee colors of blue and white. It is its simplicity that makes it effective, Treitler said. Photographs of Yankee batters Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams and David Justice and visiting team members with the SunAmerica sign behind them have appeared on the ESPN, Fox and MSG stations, Treitler said. The exposure has been wonderful, she said.

In addition, SunAmerica has bought a number of season tickets to take sales reps to the games, where they can see the SunAmerica billboard for themselves, Treitler said.

Having gotten a taste of television's reach achieved by posting a backdrop to the Yankees, SunAmerica fund executives began to consider running a television spot to promote the funds, Treitler said.

"It was a combination of factors," she said. "SunAmerica Inc. has their own branding campaign running on NBC, How Do You Want to Spend Your Retirement?'" Treitler said. SunAmerica funds thought ads of its own could benefit from the name recognition that the parent company's ads have fostered, Treitler said.

SunAmerica funds have also performed well and grown significantly in assets over the past few years, said Treitler.

"Strategic Insight tracks us as one of the fastest-growing fund companies," Treitler said. Media aimed at retail investors, including Investor's Business Daily and CNBC, have also included a number of SunAmerica portfolio managers.

"There is a lot of excitement about what has been going on around here," Treitler said.

While pondering advertising, Treitler recalled shots the company had filmed for a CD-ROM for brokers/dealers several years ago. That and the parent company's ad campaign, "How Do You Want to Spend Your Retirement?" helped SunAmerica funds come up with the idea, "Where Do You Want to Be?"

The ads, which were developed in-house, will run exclusively on CNBC, with which SunAmerica has signed a one-year agreement. The ads will run in the New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Phoenix markets, Treitler said. She declined to disclose the budget.

The commercials are designed to prod viewers - with tempting pictures of sports action shots and majestic scenery - to imagine where they would like to be in three, five or ten years, Treitler said.

"We have some really gorgeous shots on the video on the CD-ROM," Treitler said. "Rather than thinking about mutual funds, it looks like you are going on vacation, and is very appealing."

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