To thrive in the years ahead, banks must overcome the image of being money mortuaries--which is to say, a place for dead money. That's what Milwaukee-based Firstar Corp. hopes to accomplish with its new corporate-wide advertising program, built around the tagline, "Do something with your money."

[Expanded Picture]Consumers view banks as having very limited product lines, and as being passive service providers. "It's a safe place to put your money," says marketing director Steve Steiner, of the normal perception--but not such a good place if you really want your money to grow.

In developing the new program, one of Firstar's first tasks was to figure out what it wanted to say about itself. in a series of focus group discussions with its own employees, a common theme emerged: Firstar customers generally did not appreciate the full extent of the bank's product or service capabilities.

The result was a new positioning strategy that tries to broaden consumers' awareness of what a good bank can do for them. In an era Of 401(k)s and pension portability, it also taps into the frustration and doubt that many people experience when they try to manage their own money. The new program is being deployed throughout the entire company--although Steiner says that regional executives still retain considerable control over local expenditures--and it will utilize television, radio, print and outdoor mediums.

The new tagline is a play on Nike's "Just Do It" slogan, and Firstar hopes it comes across as a call to action for consumers to manage their financial affairs aggressively--and to choose Firstar in the process.

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