For most companies, being No. 1 is viewed as an asset that should be touted in a flashy advertising and marketing campaign.

But Chemical Banking Corp., which turned into a cash management market leader overnight as a result of its merger with Manufacturers Hanover Trust Co., found that some customers worry that bigger is not necessarily better. They prefer the service of a smaller institution.

Chemical's marketing challenge is to convince customers, especially small ones, that the bank hasn't gotten too big for its britches.

New Ad Campaign

Last week the bank launched a new advertising and marketing campaign for its Geoserve unit, which provides information processing for corporate treasurers at multinational corporations as well as at middle market companies. The campaign is the first to portray the cash management group after the merger.

Geoserve was the name of Hanover's information processing division. Although the new unit combines similar divisions from both banks, Chemical retained the Geoserve name because the Hanover unit was much larger and better known.

Because of the merger, Geoserve is now the leading provider of cash management information services to corporations and financial institutions. It's the largest U.S. dollar clearing agent, processing 70,000 transaction a day, and a leader in stock transfer services, government securities clearing, and corporate trust appointments.

The unit generates more than $700 million in annual revenue. This, combined with its market leader stature, is a marketer's dream business.

Gauging Customer Sentiments

But an extensive series of focus groups with Geoserve customers last fall revealed that some are apprehensive about Chemical's size. The focus groups also revealed that while customers were aware of the merger, they wanted to know more about it and how it would affect them.

Customers also said that they wanted lots of notice to prepare for any changes they might have to make in their systems as a result of the merger.

"We found there was a little apprehension about us becoming a market leader," said Joyce Healy, senior vice president in charge of marketing for Geoserve.

Reassuring Clients

Based on data from the focus groups, Chemical decided that the new Geoserve campaign must convince customers that the unit could still deliver the kind of service both banks did when they were smaller players.

The bank hired the ad agency Chemical used for its cash management group. New York-based Wills and Evans is a medium-size agency with $40 million in annual billings and clients that include Clariol, New Woman Magazine, and East New York Savings Bank.

The agency had to come up with a campaign that touts the No. 1 status, but promotes a modest image, said Scott Wills, account manager.

The broad message of the campaign, "Global resources, Individual solutions," appears at the center of all print ads.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.