Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA is hoping a new marketing campaign will explain to prospective U.S. customers how it does business.

The Madrid company's U.S. unit, BBVA Compass in Birmingham, Ala., unveiled the "Banking Built for You" initiative on Monday. Since it is designed to promote the parent company's customer-centric business model, BBVA Compass opted against a campaign that would draw more attention to the recession and financial crisis.

Frank Sottosanti, BBVA Compass' chief marketing officer, said executives "toyed" with a campaign around economic stress, "but it seemed like every bank was doing that, so we decided not to go along that path." Sottosanti, a former Wachovia Corp. executive who joined BBVA Compass in February, said the message also should have a longer shelf life and would be relevant even after the economy rebounds.

"Trust in banks is down as people have become somewhat disengaged and disenfranchised," he said. "With that comes opportunity if we are able to stand out."

Sottosanti would not say how much BBVA Compass would spend on the campaign, though he said the bank was "challenged with some budget constraints, so it is not as much as we would have liked to do."

Several banking companies in Alabama have come under stress, including Colonial BancGroup in Montgomery and Nexity in Birmingham, which disclosed this year that they had received cease-and-desist orders from regulators. Sottosanti declined to identify any rivals whose customers his company might target in customer-acquisition efforts, but he said such efforts would put particular emphasis on "people with high deposit balances and are most likely to move" because their bank is under pressure.

BBVA last year rebranded nearly 580 U.S. branches.

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