For more than a dozen years, Texans have known Frost Bank by the tagline: "We're from here." While the motto hasn't changed, the bank has - and so has its advertising.
Frost, based in San Antonio, has tripled its assets since 1997, to $15 billion, and now has more than 100 offices statewide. Yet despite its size, many of its own customers didn't realize that the bank could deliver the same investment and insurance options that are offered by much larger financial institutions, says Pam Thomas, Frost's executive vice president of marketing.
So gone from its advertising is much of the down-hominess that marked previous campaigns. Its newest ad series, which kicked off in April, brings a more cosmopolitan feel, while still managing to stay true to Frost's community roots.
"We wanted to be sure that we were communicating to people that we had investment and insurance products, because we found through research that a lot of our own customers didn't even realize what our capabilities are," Thomas says. "We also wanted people to realize that we have the same capabilities and sophistication that the large banks have."
The new television spots, created by McGarrah Jessee in Austin, are simple and direct. With a soft piano playing in the background and a black screen, one ad slowly scrolls and states, "You have zero control over the stock market, or interest-rate adjustments. You can't issue bonds, create credit, or print money. You can, however, choose who you trust with your money."
Another ad plays on public skepticism of anything related to Wall Street or Washington. "1,825 miles from Wall Street...1,600 miles from the nearest Washington lobbyist...And a million miles from any get-rich-quick scheme...You'll find us, hard at work, close to home."
Still another speaks to the company's investment prowess. "Up...down...then up again. Just remember, slow and steady wins the race. On your mark, get set..." and ends, as do all Frost ads, with the bank's starburst logo and the "We're from here" tagline.
The ads are far different from previous television spots featuring bank employees talking about their favorite grilling techniques or gabbing with customers about non-banking topics. "Looking at some of our older campaigns, we played into our history and our longevity ... but we wanted to be very sure that folks understood that we are a sophisticated company with full-service capabilities," Thomas says.
The marketing evolution began last August when Frost dropped the word "Bank" from its print ads, referring to itself simply as Frost, with the words, "Banking, Investments, Insurance," written off to the side.
By ditching "Bank," Frost is following the example of Apple, which dropped "Computer" from its name, and Cisco, which dumped "Systems," says Karl Barnhart, managing director at New York brand consultant CoreBrand. "This is a viable strategy to extend a brand beyond a single category; this makes sense for Frost," he says.
As for the "We're from here" tagline, Barnhart says it's a no-brainer for Frost to continue using it after a dozen years because it conveys a message of trust. "In today's environment of uncertainty, trust, stability and empathy are the three key messages that every bank is trying to get to," he says. "It's a huge advantage that Frost can build off a consistent positioning."
It also contrasts Frost to other banks whose shorter-lived slogans may have shown they forgot their roots. "Everyone [in financial services] is looking for a compelling, differentiating message, so you're seeing a lot of companies searching around for messages that address stability and distance themselves from the over-exuberance of only a year ago," Barnhart says. "Ask Citi what happened to their 'Live Richly' tagline."