Union Bank of California said it is directing 40% of its advertising budget at minority groups.

The $31 billion-asset bank last month initiated three statewide television, radio, and newspaper ad campaigns it hopes will persuade Hispanics, Chinese-Americans, and African-Americans to open Union checking and savings accounts.

"The future of our market share and everyone else's in California depends upon how well we establish relationships with these segments," said George A. Ramirez, senior vice president of emerging markets administration. "We realized that we have not been reaching these segments as much as we need to."

Mr. Ramirez refused to say how much the San Francisco-based bank, 81% owned by Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi Ltd., spends on advertising.

The ads, which are in English, Spanish, and Chinese, promote Union's new offer to deposit $100 in a child's education account when a customer opens a checking account.

Next week the bank will begin targeting small-business customers with three similar campaigns that offer to waive the first $4,000 in fees for payroll services, lines of credit, cash management, and sweep accounts.

On Aug. 1 the bank will begin another blitz aimed at the three ethnic groups. These ads will promote checking accounts tied to consumer loans, Mr. Ramirez said.

Later in the year the bank will produce a campaign focusing on women, he added.

Eighteen million Californians-56% of the state's population- are of Asian extraction, Hispanic, or African-American, Mr. Ramirez said. About half of Union's 240 branches are in areas with significant minority populations, he added.

"California is the place to very specifically target the values of minorities and their communities," said David J. Redhill, executive director of communications and marketing at Landor Associates, a San Francisco-based branding and design firm. "Firms that market everyday consumer products have been doing this, and banks are starting to see the value of it."

As bank marketing departments move from a product to a client orientation they will realize how minority customers' needs differ, said Brian C. Hartzer, vice president and head of the San Francisco office of First Manhattan Consulting Group.

"There's a real untapped potential, especially in California," Mr. Hartzer added.

BankAmerica Corp. and BankBoston Corp. have run similar campaigns, according to Bravo Group, a New York-based Hispanic advertising firm. Citicorp is also preparing an Hispanic ad campaign, a Bravo spokeswoman said.

Union hired minority-run firms to produce its ads. Crossover Communications of San Francisco created the African-American campaign, David Omori & Associates of San Francisco the Chinese ads, and Cohen Latino Communications of San Diego the Spanish spots.

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