If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Patrick L. Flinn has a wide circle of admirers.

This past summer, all the major banks in Atlanta went to extended hours. None would admit it, but they were clearly responding to advertising from Bank South Corp. that touted the advantages of its 47 supermarket branches.

In the two years he has run Bank South, Mr. Flinn, 51, spearheaded television and print ads that sparkle with humorous (and sometimes zinging) attacks on out-of-town rivals. The ads, combined with an offer of free checking and other enticements, are credited with stealing 200,000 customers.

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