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Evergreen Funds Tries TV Advertising

As part of an aggressive five-year strategic plan begun last year to spark interest in and increase visibility of the Evergreen Funds, the firm will launch its first ever television ads on February 18.

Evergreen Investment Management, the Charlotte, North Carolina-based money management subsidiary of First Union Corp., has bought media slots on business news and financial networks such as MSNBC, Fox, Bloomberg and various mutual fund talk shows, said Ruth Papazian, senior vice president for Evergreen Funds. The plan is to capture the attention of both brokers and investors, many of whom now regularly watch these networks' shows, said Papazian. The $56 billion Evergreen Funds include some 90 loaded, broker-sold funds.

The ads will be comprised of an initial 45-second "image" section that communicates the message that experienced advisers are valuable, immediately followed by a 15-second "performance" section boasting the performance of seven to eight of the complex's funds. The performances of a different group of funds will be promoted in each quarter of the year. The ads are set to run throughout 1999.

Two different image segments and five shorter performance segments have been developed with the help of Hal Riney, the San Francisco agency which designed Evergreen's multi-million dollar print ad campaign last year. One image segment will address market volatility and convey the message that in the mutual fund industry, experience counts. That has been the message already used in Evergreen's print ads. The other image segment will give the viewer the sense that he is being bombarded with too much information. The ad will then again suggest that an experienced adviser like Evergreen is the antidote to this information overload.

Though Papazian declined to comment on the exact content of the ads before their initial airing, she described them as fast, exciting, cutting-edge with a hint of humor. The new TV ad campaign dovetails with the print ad campaign Evergreen introduced last year in national financial and trade publications. The print ads sought to capitalize on the firm's long experience and its heritage as the industry's first mutual fund family dating back to 1932.

The Evergreen Funds is stepping up its public relations efforts at the same time it is introducing its new marketing and branding strategy. In 1999 portfolio managers will actively seek press interviews on CNBC and other stations that offer forums for portfolio managers, Papazian said. Evergreen expects to re-launch an expanded website next month, and has hired web managers to improve the firm's online presence. Evergreen is also creating a broker/dealer password-protected section of its website at (

"We want to assure that every customer contact point offers the same experience," said Papazian. "Our goal is not to be the biggest, but the smartest."

While Evergreen expects to double its advertising budget in each of the next four years, it will not change its core message. That is the industry's biggest mistake, said Papazian.

"Changing ad images every year confuses consumers," she said.