Following in the footsteps of other major regional banking companies, Wachovia Corp. will unveil an ambitious branding campaign today.

Tagged "Let's Get Started," the campaign is designed to link the $47 billion-asset company with a commitment to solving financial problems.

Company officials would not disclose the size of the campaign but said its budget is double the amount spent last year on marketing. Over all, Wachovia's 1996 advertising and promotional budget, which included marketing, totaled about $60 million.

The launch of six television spots and a series of regional and national print ads, regional billboards, and direct mail pieces marks Wachovia as the latest entry in a rapidly growing field of banks seeking to build their identities into household names. Charlotte, N.C.-based First Union Corp. launched an $85 million campaign earlier this year. And Southern National Corp., which like Wachovia is based in Winston-Salem, N.C., launched its own branding campaign last week.

John W. Coffey, an analyst with the Robinson-Humphrey Co., said the move was a positive one for Wachovia.

"Banks historically were 'build it and they will come.' It was the 'Field of Dreams' approach," said Mr. Coffey. "Now they're trying to do everything they can from a proactive basis to attract customers. Banks are finally adopting the marketing practices of consumer products companies."

In the past, Wachovia's advertising strategy had focused on promoting specific lines of business and the company's personal banker retail strategy. The "Let's Get Started" campaign marks the company's first effort to send a singular, companywide message promoting the Wachovia brand. The emphasis follows the hiring of Lynn J. Brown as marketing director a year ago and the selection last fall of Long Haymes Carr as Wachovia's new advertising firm.

"The last two or three years, we've been more internally focused, gearing up our lines of business," Mr. Brown said. "We're now ready to lock arms and take the message to the marketplace."

Wachovia actually began its campaign a few weeks ago with a series of teaser billboards. The first billboards, which contained no mention of Wachovia, asked, "Where are you?"

A second series of blind billboards said, "We are here." These ads changed today to read "Let's Get Started" and provide the Wachovia name, phone number, and Internet address.

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