Wells Fargo & Co. is making a big splash with a print advertising campaign for its investment services.
The San Francisco banking company launched the campaign June 4 with a glossy, eight-page brochure inserted in the Sunday editions of five top California newspapers.
Three newspaper display ads have since appeared, and a second brochure is in the works, according to Didi Lewnes, director of print media management at Wechler Partners Inc., the New York firm that designed the ads.
The campaign is unusually ambitious for a bank investment products program. But Wells Fargo, which manages $10.6 billion of funds, is known as both an innovator in consumer investments and a shrewd marketer.
The centerpiece of the campaign is the 10-by-12-inch brochure, labeled "Asset Allocation: A Sound Approach to Mutual Fund Investing."
Bearing Wells Fargo's trademark stagecoach image, the brochure sets out to explain some of the basics of investing as well as to promote products.
One article asks if the reader truly has an investment portfolio, or just a mixed bag of investments. A multiple choice quiz rates the reader's "investment personality." The last section outlines Wells Fargo's products for asset allocation.
Wells Fargo is one of the few banking companies to offer asset- allocation funds, which spread assets among a range of mutual funds depending on an individual's risk profile and financial goals. Its LifePath Funds, for instance, are designed to keep pace with consumers' financial needs over periods as long as five decades.
One bank consultant, who requested anonymity, said Wells Fargo was wise to offer a detailed explanation of how such asset-allocation products work.
"It's hard for people to respond to the average newspaper ad about asset allocation," the consultant said. "It's a complicated product, and a more academic sale than other investments."
The brochure ran in the Sunday editions of the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Diego Tribune, the Sacramento Bee, the Santa Barbara News, and the Orange County Register, a spokeswoman for Wells Fargo said. Wells Fargo officials declined to comment further.
Geoffrey H. Bobroff, a mutual fund consultant in East Greenwich, R.I., estimated that the brochure cost at least $500,000 to produce and distribute.
That is a substantial sum for investment product advertising, but the advantage is that the brochure can be used again and again, he said. "It's a piece that has some lasting value."
Wells Fargo has been one of the most successful banking companies at selling proprietary mutual funds, thanks in part to solid performance.
From Jan. 1 through June 8, Wells Fargo's asset allocation funds posted average returns of 14.34% - better than the industry average of 12.36%, according to Lipper Analytical Services, Summit, N.J.
The ad campaign seemed geared to customers who have some relationship with Wells Fargo but do most of their investing outside the bank.
"Wells has tapped a lot of loyal customers already. Now it must reach other eligible customers," Mr. Bobroff said.