Nothing works like money in the bank.
That's the tag line for two sharp-witted television spots the American Bankers Association has had created to update the industry's image.
ABA president Walter A. Dods Jr., president and chief executive officer of First Hawaiian Bank, is the force behind what he hopes will be the industry's first national advertising campaign in 15 years.
"The hardest part of my job is to sell this to the industry," Mr. Dods said in an interview.
Early this year ABA hired McCann-Erickson to create the campaign. The San Francisco-based agency in July delivered two 30-second TV commercials, two radio spots, and four print ads.
The commercials will be tested in two markets, and if they are effective, Mr. Dods said, he will ask bankers to foot the bill for a nationwide rollout.
Banks would have to chip in roughly $500 for every $100 million of deposits, he said. That would add up to $16 million.
One television spot features "Dweeby Gerald," an 8-year-old wearing corrective shoes, shorts hoisted up by suspenders, and clunky glasses held together by tape. As Gerald comes around a corner, several bullies tease him and slap a sign on his back that reads "Kick Me."
Gerald trudges on, hugging his blue piggy bank. Arriving at his bank, Gerald spills his coins before the teller while the narrator explains the boy "invests" every week.
Then a gleaming yacht appears on the screen. It's name: "Kick Me." While we watch a grown-up Gerald sailing with a beautiful blonde, the narrator notes, "Gerald just turned 35, and now he has the dweebiest yacht in the harbor. From mutual funds to annuities, CDs to securities, nothing works like money in the bank."
In an interview, Mr. Dods explained the ad's goal: "We wanted to set the tone that saving may not be sexy, it may not be fancy, but ultimately it will get you where you want to go."
The other commercial, titled "Fuddy-Duddies," begins with slow-paced music and a shot of five drab bankers behind a desk. Behind them is a huge portrait of three more boring bankers. Then wham, the music takes off, and blurry images start to whirl.
The narrator announces: "Your bankers have devised ways for you to go to Wall Street in curlers, get a loan on line 2, bounce mutual funds off the moon, hit the financial superhighway at three billion transactions per hour, get cash on the run, even transfer funds while you relax in seat 10C, 28,000 feet above St. Louis."
The scene returns to the drab bankers, but this time their legs are in the picture. One banker is standing on a skateboard. Fins cover another's feet. A basketball rests between the knees of a guy in high-tops.
"Those Fuddy-Duddies. By laptop, telephone, ATM, or handshake, nothing works like money in the bank."
Mr. Dods said he plans to wear in-line roller skates when he pitches the campaign to bankers at a September meeting.