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Warburg Pincus Revamps Print Advertising

Warburg Pincus of New York has introduced new print mutual fund ads that are scheduled to run through 2000.

Gone are the wordy ads with line drawings of portfolio managers that Warburg has used for several years. The new ads, developed for Warburg by Dibona, Bornstein & Random an ad agency in Boston, place more emphasis on performance than on fund managers and are more eye-catching.

Extensive text has been banished in favor of a single word in large type print such as "start-up" to introduce a global venture capital fund, and "precise" to promote two funds that invest in Japan. Each ad has a photo and a thoughtful question designed to get a would-be investor pondering how he can take advantage of global start-up companies or opportunities in Japan. The ad with the "precise" caption, for example, has a picture of carefully-drawn Japanese characters. It poses the question, "You recognize Japan's new economy, but how do you participate in its potential?"

The ads name a single, or at most two funds, give the fund's Morningstar rating and present the 1-, 5- and 10-year return. For newer funds, performance since inception replaces long-term performance figures. The Warburg Pincus Funds logo appears at the bottom of the ads, along with its Internet address and 800 telephone number. That is all for text. Previously, ads included a description of the fund's investment style and a quote from the portfolio manager.

"We went with a fairly non-traditional look," said Gail Eisenkraft, director for retail at Warburg. Warburg Pincus is a division of Credit Suisse Asset Management in New York.

"The whole point was to create a sense of innovation and catch your attention by using larger pictures and words," said Eisenkraft.

Warburg had, for years, used a "talking heads" print ad campaign that included a portfolio manager's face as well as a quote from the manager, said Eisenkraft. But, Warburg has decided it needed to abandon this conservative approach, she said.

"We decided we needed a new look to tell who we are and where we are going," said Eisenkraft.

Warburg also was guided by focus groups it held.

"People were looking for new investment opportunities and were focused on a (single) product," Eisenkraft said. "Hands down the customer prefers individual product ads." Before, several funds were advertised together. Now that individuals have relationships with many firms, the family of funds approach is not effective, she said.

"They are selecting products, not firms," she said.

A total of five Warburg ads, each promoting different funds, will be run on a rotating basis. The one-quarter page ads will run in the Money & Investing section in The Wall Street Journal, in which they have long appeared, twice a week. Warburg has had a contract to run ads in the Wall Street Journal for the past five years, paying $1 million annually for the space, said Eisenkraft.

The same ads are also scheduled to run in national retail investor magazines such as Smart Money, Mutual Funds, Worth and Kiplinger, said Eisenkraft. That campaign adds several million dollars to the fund group's advertising expenditures for this year, she said.

Aside from the reduction of text, the most striking aspect of the new ads running in The Wall Street Journal is that the standard, boiler-plate disclosure that is required in fund performance ads is relegated to a vertical, side box which appears separate from but still attached to the Warburg fund advertisement. While all of the legal disclosure is present, it is hardly noticeable.

The ads break with the industry tradition of printing the necessary disclosures at the bottom of print ads.

That copy shift was designed by Warburg's ad agency to more efficiently use the quarter page space, said Eisenkraft.

But only Warburg's new ads running in The Wall Street Journal present the disclosures in the novel format, she said. The magazine ads will still run the disclosure at the bottom.