While rising interest rates have most banks dusting off advertising campaigns for deposit products, Bank of Boston is placing its faith in mutual funds.
The banking company is spending $1 million this winter to talk up its 1784 Funds to consumers in the Boston area.
The print and broadcast campaign was kicked off in January, with television spots airing locally during the Super Bowl, one of the most watched programs of the year. The push continues this month, with full-page ads in daily newspapers.
Using the theme "Investment Services for the Rest of Us," Bank of Boston is courting the area's large working-class population, said Allen W. Croessmann, the bank's director of mutual funds.
"We're conveying that investment services are not just for rich people," he said.
Mr. Croessmann must also convince Boston consumers that the same statement does not apply to Bank of Boston, which has been known traditionally as a staid commercial bank.
The bank took a step toward becoming more mainstream two years ago when it rolled out the 1784 Funds - which are named for the bank's founding date.
The 12 funds had $1.4 billion of assets under management as of Dec. 31, according to a ranking by Lipper Analytical Services Inc., Summit, N.J. Bank of Boston distributes the products through 50 sales representatives who cover 300 branches in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.
Now, after spending the past two years marketing the products through branch promotions to existing customers, Bank of Boston is casting a wider net. The campaign marks the bank's first advertising push since the funds were created.
The ad campaign uses humor to make the pitch that mutual funds aren't just for the well-to-do.
One television spot depicts a private club where two gentlemen - their faces hidden by newspapers - appear to be discussing mutual funds. The camera pans upward to show the conversation is really taking place between the two waiters behind them.
Mr. Croessmann acknowledged that the promotion might appear oddly timed, given market conditions that seemingly make certificates of deposit more appealing. But, he said, "it's not always bad to be a contrarian."
Indeed, one advertising and marketing executive applauded Bank of Boston's move. Rolling out the fund promotion now "is a smart idea," said Alvin Schechter, chairman of Interbrand-Schechter, New York.
The amount Bank of Boston is spending - $1 million - is not a particularly large amount, compared with what other fund companies typically spend, Mr. Schechter said.
But, given the timing, Bank of Boston should get a lot of bang for the buck, he said. "To be one of six banks promoting CDs is not as effective a use of marketing dollars as being one bank promoting mutual funds."
And, Bank of Boston stands to make more from mutual fund management fees than its competitors will make from selling term CDs, Mr. Schechter added.