In yet another departure from traditional banking practice, Cleveland- based KeyCorp is taking its message to the public via Super Bowl advertising.

Saying it wants to transform the image of a bank as conservative and impersonal, KeyCorp will launch its new slogan, "Key. For a New America," with a 60-second spot and two 30-second commercials in 25 markets during this Sunday's Super Bowl. In each market, KeyCorp, a $66 billion-asset company, will continue local television advertising for five to eight weeks following the football game.

"The significance of our new customer-focused initiatives demanded a campaign that would really capture people's attention and shatter the typical image of the staid, inaccessible financial services company," said Robert W. Gillespie, KeyCorp president and chief executive.

KeyCorp officials described the effort as a "multimillion-dollar" campaign, but declined to disclose its total cost. The campaign also includes newspaper advertising.

Advertising Age estimates Super Bowl commercials average $1.1 million per 30-second spot. But a KeyCorp spokesman said the commercials aren't fully priced because they're being aired in select markets - many of them on the small side.

Among the markets targeted are KeyCorp's largest.

The commercials won't air in cities where KeyCorp still uses the Society Bank name. KeyCorp merged with Society Corp. in 1994 and still uses the Society name in Michigan and Ohio and portions of Indiana. The company plans to change the names of those banks to Key in June, and will then air the commercials in those markets.

Touting its investment management "designed for the little guy" and fast-response business banking, the commercials are focused on selling the KeyCorp name and the bank as a consumer-friendly service business.

"This is Key's first commitment to intense, brand-building initiatives," said Julia Adamsen, senior vice president of marketing.

She said KeyCorp interviewed hundreds of customers last summer to find out their concerns about banks. Most said banks were impersonal and outdated. The commercials, created by Young & Rubicam, tried to address those concerns and present the message in a whimsical style focusing on a series of images, including those of a baby boomer, a graduating collegian, and an elderly couple.

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.