Midlantic Bank has taken a different tack to attract upscale clients, launching a splashy new marketing campaign aimed at the up-and-coming rich.
In fact, the private banking literature for the Edison, N.J.-based unit of PNC Bank Corp. is downright funky. Vibrant illustrations dominate the small softbound book describing Midlantic's Portfolio Banking service.
Moreover, the bank has lowered the bar to make the program available to a wider audience, targeting the emerging wealthy with at least $50,000 in deposits and investments at the bank.
"That's not a bad idea - catching the baby boomers who will be wealthy in a few years, when there's a transfer of money from inheritances," said Gerard T. Morda, a private banking consultant in Boulder, Colo.
Midlantic began the direct mail campaign last October, focusing on current investment customers and new prospects for the bank's private banking services. A bank spokesman said the strategy is part an effort to add private banking relationships. But he would not discuss what results the banks has seen.
The $13 billion-asset bank, which merged with PNC Bank Corp. on Dec. 31, is a relatively small player in the private banking arena. But the bank operates in some of the wealthiest pockets in the Northeast.
Some observers say the bank is targeting wealthy boomers who commute to New York City and Philadelphia in an effort to keep assets and bank relationships in Midlantic's home state of New Jersey. "They still have to compete with the likes of Chase Manhattan and other New York private bank powerhouses," said Mr. Morda.
But unlike Chase, which sets a $3 million minimum for its private banking, Midlantic's $50,000 minimum is relatively modest.
Midlantic's marketing material was developed by New York-based Wechsler & Partners, which designs literature for banks, management firms, mutual fund companies, and investment banks.
Dan Ross, a principal at the firm, said they tried for an offbeat approach by selecting eye-catching illustrations and printing the book on heavy stock.
"Typically a bank trying to reach the upscale, affluent market uses things that look very corporate and institutional," he said. "What we call 'boys on the phone,'" Mr. Ross said, referring to the photographs of men sitting behind desks commonly found on the pages of annual reports and marketing brochures.
Mr. Ross added that the brochure's designs go well beyond the "crummy- looking rack literature that sits in the branch."