Bank of America Corp. plans to spend $15 million to $20 million on a campaign targeting retirees.
The four-month "help2retire" campaign, which B of A kicked off Monday, will include print and television advertising as well as billboards nationally.
The print ads will launch this week and the television spots are expected to start later this month. Bank of America said the campaign encourages individuals to work with a Merrill Lynch adviser to find areas of their lives that they would like help in 'retiring,' such as confusion around Roth individual retirement account conversions.
The company would not disclose the size of its overall marketing budget.
Analysts said B of A is trying to create more synergy with Merrill Lynch and its corps of financial advisers, and in so doing, increase assets.
"There was the obvious cross-selling opportunity that everyone realized when B of A bought Merrill, but beneath that, there are a lot of opportunities for B of A and Merrill to co-venture," said Geoffrey Bobroff of Bobroff Consulting in East Greenwich, R.I.
Andy Sieg, the head of retirement and philanthropic services for Bank of America Merrill Lynch, said that "from the context of the legacy companies, this type of marketing and advertising effort behind retirement is unprecedented."
Sieg said he expects the campaign will help B of A "rapidly" increase its retirement assets under management this year.
Adding retirement assets has been a key goal at the $2.39 trillion-asset B of A since it hired Sallie Krawcheck in August as head of wealth management and brokerage operations.
In October it rolled out My Retirement Income, a group of products that let customers nearing or in retirement automatically transfer funds from a Merrill Lynch cash management account into a B of A deposit account monthly or quarterly.
Krawcheck hired Sieg from Citigroup Inc. to lead the retirement initiative. The company had $450 billion of retirement assets under management at the end of last year and is looking for ways to cross-sell Merrill Lynch's products and services to B of A's corporate and middle-market customers.
Sieg said the marketing campaign complements the cross-selling program.
"We are really putting our marketing muscle behind the retirement opportunity," he said.
"If you think strategically, the retirement marketplace is one of the largest opportunities for our company."
According to the Charlotte banking company's research, $330 billion of retirement assets are eligible to be rolled over this year, and 13 million households are eligible for Roth IRA conversions.
Bank of America, of course, isn't alone in going after the retiree market.
Other large financial services companies, including Prudential, have centered advertising and marketing campaigns on retirement assets.
"In the wealth management space," however, "client acquisition is traditionally driven by referrals, not by advertising," Sieg said. "Therefore, this is a very different approach."
Justine Metz, the head of marketing for retirement and philanthropic services at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, said that Bank of America spent "quite of bit" of its advertising budget on retirement in 2008, but "we didn't achieve as much as we wanted to" in those efforts.
"The bank didn't have an investment on the advice side unto itself, and Merrill Lynch didn't emphasize retirement at all in its marketing or advertising campaigns," Metz said.
"They never did an explicit campaign around retirement. They focused their advertising on advice and the thundering herd."
Bank of America plans to lead the campaign with Merrill Lynch's adviser force because, Metz said, the "financial advisers are a major differentiator."
"This campaign is all about personalization," she said.
"We want to interact. We are also going to be doing a similar initiative online on a Web site. We want to emphasize all channels."