That is what happened to 32 employees at J.P. Morgan & Co. ranking from vice chairman all the way down to associate. They now appear in black-and-white print ads and 30- and 60-second television spots promoting the $269 billion-asset banking company. Their presence has helped humanize one of Wall Street's most staid institutions.
"I can help build companies. I can help build futures. I can do without doubters," reads one full-page print ad featuring a close-up of John Rhea, a vice president in Morgan's investment banking group who specializes in consumer and retail companies. "I work for J.P. Morgan."
"I believe bankers get more done than banks," reads another ad with a close-up of Richard Zimmerman, a vice president in Morgan's private client group. "I work for J.P. Morgan."
And yes, that is Michael E. Patterson -- Morgan's vice chairman -- shown riding his bicycle in another spot.
George Shakespear, Morgan's director of corporate advertising, said the company has been using employees in its advertising for more than 30 years, though the television spots that are currently running are a first.
"People are our strength," Mr. Shakespear said. "They deliver our services. They are the face of the company."
Recent bank branding campaigns have been as varied as the companies they are trying to define, but there are few examples of ads featuring real employees.
First Union Corp.'s multi-million-dollar television ads, done with the help of George Lucas' Industrial Light and Magic and San Francisco-based ad agency Publicis & Hal Riney, use surreal images to suggest customers need help navigating the complex financial world. The tagline is "Come to the Mountain. Or if you prefer, the Mountain will come to you."
Other banking companies, including Chase Manhattan Corp. and Deutsche Bank AG, have used more lifelike, down-to-earth imagery, though the people appearing in their ad campaigns are actors.
But sometimes even those efforts can go awry. Deutsche Bank which launched a branding campaign after its June acquisition of Bankers Trust Corp. -- is abandoning ads created with the help of ad agency Citigate Albert Frank in favor of a new branding effort by McCann-Erickson Inc.
Mr. Shakespear said real employees make a difference, especially in an industry that provides services but lacks a tangible product to pitch. "The firm's best assets are its people," he said. "We don't have a Coke bottle."
Morgan's ads, produced by New York-based agency Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/EURO RSCG, began running nationally in June in newspapers such as The Wall Street Journal and on network and cable television.
The casting call was not universal, Mr. Shakespear said. Morgan, with offices spread throughout the globe, gathered input from its human resources executives and business heads, and hand-picked employees who represented a cross-section of the company's 15,674 employees. "We did a fairly comprehensive analysis," Mr. Shakespear said. "We thought it was important to show a wide variety."
One key executive -- Douglas A. Warner 3d, chairman and chief executive officer -- is absent from the campaign. "We are conscious of not making it a star system," Mr. Shakespear said.