First of America Bank Corp. hopes a New York advertising agency that has helped sell oatmeal, paper towels, and antacids can help it sell banking products.
The $23 billion-asset Kalamazoo, Mich., company has hired Jordan McGrath Case & Taylor - an agency that has helped build brand loyalty for Quaker Oats, Bounty, and Tums - to develop a corporate theme for all of its lines of business. It plans to begin its campaign in March or April.
While banks with a national presence, such as Citicorp and Keycorp, have embarked on major brand identity campaigns, often with the help of experts outside the banking industry, it's unusual for a four-state regional institution such as First of America to launch such an effort, said Denis Laplante, a bank analyst with Fox-Pitt Kelton Inc.
Indeed, some analysts don't believe First of America will even exist in 10 years, but Michael Lindley, director of marketing, said that enhancing the bank's name may actually help it survive.
"We feel building a strong brand identity makes us a strong contender," Mr. Lindley said. That's consistent with First of America's strategy for surviving the consolidation wave, he added.
First of America, which unified its banks under a common name in 1982, often gets confused in the minds of consumers with other banks, Mr. Lindley said. He said too many other banks have either "first" or "America" in their names. There are no plans, however, to change the bank's name.
But banking analyst Joseph Stieven of Stifel Nicolaus questioned the value of a marketing campaign. "I'm always very cautious watching people spend money on that," he said. "Banking is a service business. A bank's products look like everyone else's products. I just think it could be money better spent."
Mr. Lindley said his company isn't increasing its marketing budget. He plans to spend $8 million to $10 million on media advertising using the new slogan.
Although the ad agency is better known for its work with consumer products companies, Jordan McGrath did develop the "hungry bankers" slogan for New Jersey-based Midlantic Corp. in 1978.