Aim Management Group, looking to build brand recognition, has launched a nationwide television and print advertising campaign.

The Houston firm, 12th-largest mutual fund company in the country, has more than doubled its advertising budget, from less than $5 million last year to $12 million this year.

"We've started an image and branding campaign, trying to raise corporate visibility among the public," said Ivy McLemore, a spokesman for Aim.

Aim, which has 23 retail mutual funds and $72 billion of assets under management, is owned by Amvescap PLC, London.

Two of three planned television spots ran during the French Open tennis tournament and National Basketball Association finals. A third ad will start this week.

The commercials, prepared by Deutsch Advertising, New York, also will be shown during the Wimbledon tennis tournament and on several TV news magazines, including "Dateline" and "20/20."

Print advertising will run in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and other metropolitan dailies.

Mutual fund companies may be new to mass marketing, but they're quickly learning the value of brand awareness.

"A number of companies have decided they need brand recognition with customers. And to get that you need to spend $5 million to $10 million," said Dan Logan, president of Trinity Communications, a Boston company that consults mutual fund companies on advertising.

Advertising spending in the mutual fund industry has nearly doubled in the past year.

On the high side, Fidelity Investments spends about $100 million a year on advertising-far surpassing Dreyfus ($10 million to $20 million) and Janus ($5 million to $10 million), Mr. Logan said.

Aim uses a "bottom-up" style of fund management, meaning it buys into companies that are at the bottom of an industry cycle or have bargain stock. It's a widely practiced investing style but one Aim feels it does with exceptional discipline, Mr. McLemore said.

But a 30-second spot doesn't allow for a lengthy talk about management philosophy. Rather, the TV spots focus on the Aim name and a nascent slogan.

"The key phrase, the tagline we use, is, 'Invest with discipline,'" he said.

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