Encore Bank in Houston is teeing off a marketing campaign aimed at retirees, and it has hired the golf world’s most famous senior citizen as its pitchman.

The $1.3 billion-asset bank has signed Arnold Palmer to a three-year contract and plans to roll out advertisements next month that use the four-time Masters winner to promote its products and services to retirees.

‘We are excited and honored to have him represent the bank and to have this opportunity to have a relationship with him,’ said James D’Agostino, Encore’s chairman and chief executive officer.

Mr. D’Agostino said the bank was not looking for a celebrity spokesperson until he learned that he and Mr. Palmer shared a mutual friend.

Before launching the campaign, the bank tested Mr. Palmer’s marketability with a focus group, which gave the 72-year-old golfer the highest possible ranking in familiarity and respectability.

The relationship with Mr. Palmer, who has won 92 career tournaments, was announced this month, shortly after Encore changed its name from Guardian Savings Bank and changed its business plan to focus specifically on retirement. This month the bank opened two branches in Florida, home to many of the country’s retirees.

“He was intrigued with the concept and totally dedicated to our direction of meeting the needs of the retired,” Mr. D’Agostino said.

He would not say how much Encore was paying Mr. Palmer, but the average annual advertising budget for a bank with between $1 billion and $5 billion of assets is $1.1 million, according to the American Bankers Association Marketing Network. Brenda Marlin, the associate director of the network, said that Encore is spending most of its ad budget on Mr. Palmer.

Because of the costs of hiring a celebrity, Ms. Marlin said she knows of no other community banking company using such a high-profile pitchman, except for Whitney Holding Co. in New Orleans.

In March $6.6 billion-asset Whitney began using the chef and television star Emeril Lagasse in its advertisements. Biff Motley, Whitney’s head of marketing, said that so far the response has been ‘terrific.’ Since more people have been coming into the bank’s branches to buy the chef’s cookbook, the employees have had ample opportunity to promote its products and services, he said.

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