A number of banks have moved their national advertising campaigns to a single agency to better coordinate branding efforts.

KeyCorp of Cleveland last week announced that it will move its multimillion-dollar national advertising account to Minneapolis-based Campbell Mithun Esty, a unit of the Interpublic Group that also does work for General Mills, Kmart, and AirTouch Cellular.

Campbell has been assigned to coordinate national media campaigns for $82.6 billion-asset

KeyCorp's consumer and corporate businesses. Key's previous agency, Wyse Advertising in Cleveland, used to have the national assignment and will continue to work on local spot advertising for the banking company's 25 primary markets across the United States.

Mellon Financial Corp. in Pittsburgh this month assigned its multimillion-dollar account to a local firm, MARC Advertising Inc., that is known for its national campaigns on behalf of True Value hardware stores and Rite Aid pharmacies.

MARC has been hired to develop $47 billion-asset Mellon's advertising, direct marketing, and on-line support projects in addition to managing promotions for its sports sponsorship programs. The business had been handled by another local firm, Bozell Kamstra, which is part of New York-based Bozell Worldwide.

MARC has about $520 million of annual billings. The Mellon account is expected to produce billings of $12 million.

In October, PNC Bank Corp. of Pittsburgh made waves by switching its account for the second time in a year. It chose Arnold Communications and Circle.com, both units of Bethesda, Md.-based Snyder Communications, to handle its national advertising efforts; the move came just six months after PNC had named W.B. Doner Advertising of Detroit its agency of record.

Arnold was assigned to handle all of $73 billion-asset PNC's advertising, public relations, branding, and interactive projects.

All three banking companies have been sharpening their branding focus in recent months in an attempt to garner more consumer investment dollars, credit card accounts, and deposits in competition with nationally recognized companies such as Fidelity Investments, Merrill Lynch, and Citigroup.

And the three are not alone.

FleetBoston Financial Corp. named Hill Holliday Connors Cosmopulos Advertising Inc. of Boston as its primary advertising agency this year.

Hill Holliday's FutureBrand Inc. unit, in New York, is doing an intensive brand study for FleetBoston, which was formed in November by the merger of Fleet Financial Group and BankBoston Corp.

Using just one agency for advertising work can help unify a banking company's message, according to agency executives.

"There is a certain synergy that comes from using a single agency," said MARC spokesman Lee Brody. "As banks see themselves specializing in consumer banking or corporate banking, that synergy becomes more important."

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