Advanta Corp. has contributed $1 million to help bring the much- anticipated Cezanne exhibit to the Philadelphia Museum of Art for three months, beginning May 30.

The gift, amassed over four years from the Advanta Foundation, is Advanta's largest to date and moves the suburban Philadelphia company into the big leagues of event sponsorships.

"It may reflect Advanta's interest in sharpening its brand name identity, something they have not successfully achieved yet," said Anat Bird, chief operating officer of Roosevelt Financial Group, St. Louis, who became familiar with Advanta in her former role as a consultant.

"The singular and unique nature of the exhibition is something that attracted us to it," said Dennis Alter, chairman of the Horsham, Pa.-based financial services company, which is best known for its credit card issuing subsidiary, Colonial National Bank USA.

Philadelphia will be the only U.S. stop for the retrospective spanning the career of Paul Cezanne. The exhibit, featuring more than 100 oil paintings, 35 watercolors, and 35 drawings, was organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art in collaboration with the Musee d'Orsay in Paris and the Tate Gallery in London.

Advanta is the main underwriter, with additional support from the Pew Charitable Trusts. More than 450,000 people are expected to view the exhibit that runs through August 18, generating more than $20 million for the region.

"Sponsoring an art exhibit in Philadelphia is a great way to build visibility in Philadelphia and the surrounding area," said David B. Hilder, an analyst for Morgan Stanley. Such an investment may not have a spillover effect nationally, he added.

"It's a good opportunity for us to present ourselves in a somewhat different light," Mr. Alter said. "We do a huge amount of advertising - direct response, primarily - asking people to use our products and services. This is an opportunity to say there is another side of our corporation (and that) we understand that people respond to things other than commerce."

However, Advanta said it will be using the event to promote a new cobranded product, the Comcast Rewards Visa Gold card. Unveiled last week with Comcast Cellular Communications Inc., it is said to be the first rewards card program for cellular carriers in the region.

Advanta will also promote its two-year-old Edvance MasterCard, which rewards card users with savings bonds that can be used toward college tuition.

"Our primary focus is not to measure a lot of new cards that we can link to this sponsorship," said Ellen Foster, Advanta's vice president, community programs. "It's more to provide an underpinning so that when people get our direct-mail pieces they are going to have a positive impression of Advanta."

Ms. Foster said Advanta will interview people as they enter and leave the exhibit "to monitor the hopeful build in consumer receptivity and knowledge of our company."

Advanta will support its sponsorship with national print advertisements that promote Cezanne exhibit and explain what the company does. The tagline: "Bringing Cezanne to America, bringing advantage to your life."

The company also will sponsor the national broadcast of a documentary on Cezanne on PBS July 10, and it is funding an educational CD-ROM based on the exhibit, an interactive guide for families, a modern-art contest for high school students, and the distribution of Cezanne teaching posters to inner-city Philadelphia schools.

As an outgrowth of its sponsorship, Ms. Foster said, Advanta has lent telecommunications expertise and personnel to the museum. Advanta gave money for equipment upgrades, designed to handle the degree of ticket demand that has overtaxed other museums with high-profile shows.

Ms. Foster concluded: "The $1 million has a larger community impact in this time frame than just about any thing else we could have invested in."

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