The Vanguard Group, known for its low-profile marketing efforts, is conducting a radio advertising campaign. Vanguard of Malvern, Pa. has run radio ads in several metropolitan areas recently as part of its efforts to build its non-mutual fund business, said Burton Greenwald, a mutual fund consultant in Philadelphia. Preliminary indications are that the radio ads have produced a lot of leads and could be expanded, he said.

Vanguard executives did not return calls seeking comment about the radio advertising campaign.

Vanguard had approximately $411 billion in assets under management in long-term mutual funds as of March 31, according to Financial Research Corp. of Boston. That makes Vanguard second only to Fidelity Investments of Boston which had $490 billion in mutual fund assets.

Vanguard is known for serving investors directly. In 1998, only about 23 percent of mutual fund sales were sold directly to investors, according to the Investment Company Institute. Vanguard has built onto its direct fund business in recent years by beginning to offer advice and guidance to individual investors through special programs. Vanguard also has attracted financial planners who are fans of Vanguard's low-cost funds.

Radio ads are a different tack for Vanguard, said Daniel P. Wiener, editor of the monthly newsletter The Independent Adviser for Vanguard Investors. John Bogle, the firm founder, has been critical of the cost and performance-oriented nature of mutual fund marketing efforts. Using radio ads for a Vanguard service is "not Bogle-like at all," said Wiener.

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