March 27, 2000
ING is hardly a well-known financial services brand in the U.S., said Michael McCoy, executive vice president and general manager of ING Funds of West Chester, Pa., in a recent interview in New York.
But, ING is determined to change that, McCoy said.
With $450 billion in assets under management worldwide, ING is convinced it has a shot at becoming one of the top mutual fund companies in the U.S. within five years, McCoy said.
ING Funds, a family of 18 fixed income, U.S. equity and international funds, has succeeded in reaching $1 billion in assets under management in just over a year, since launching its first fund in January 1999, McCoy said. By 2005, ING aims to have more than 40 funds in its family and to rank as one of the top 50 U.S. mutual fund companies, McCoy said.
To reach that goal, ING is currently running its first-ever business-to-business advertising campaign, said Kirk Wilks, senior director of corporate communications and brand development for ING North America. The four general ads that comprise this campaign are aimed at raising awareness of the ING brand, Wilks said. These ads are running in Trusts & Estates, National Underwriter, Barron's Ticker, Investment News and Financial Planning, the latter of which is published by Thomson Financial of Stamford, Conn., the publisher of this newsletter.
This campaign, which began last September and is scheduled to run through the end of the year, will be augmented by a print and television advertising campaign, beginning in late May or early June, Wilks said. This second, parallel campaign will be aimed at the sophisticated, high-end retail investor, Wilks said. This next advertising wave will begin in The Wall Street Journal and later include Forbes and Kiplinger's magazine. There will also be two 30-second spots running on the cable stations CNN, Arts & Entertainment and The Weather Channel, Wilks said.
Like ING's branding-awareness ads in trade publications, the consumer ads "are simply meant to raise awareness of the ING name, and have no call to action," Wilks said. The retail consumer campaign will focus on placing "confidence in the ING name," Wilks said.
Because the retail advertising campaign has yet to be finished, Wilks said he could not provide any further details.
However, Wilks described the approach of ING's business-to-business advertising campaign. The trade advertisements are meant to convey ING's vast resources as a worldwide banking, insurance and investment management firm, Wilks said.
"They tell people that ING is one of the biggest financial service companies in the world, operating with 94,000 employees in 60 countries, and that ING is particularly well-known in Europe and Asia," said Wilks.
"The amount of money, the number of very smart people, the clout, the history and all of the other resources that ING has, all point to the confidence that a customer can place in the ING name, be they a business partner or a retail consumer," said Mark Mitchell, creative director of MPH Strategic Brand Communications of Boulder, Colo., which has designed both the business-to-business and the retail consumer trade advertisements for ING.
"We want to leverage this confidence the ING name commands," he said.
One ad has a picture of a globe, another has a picture of the company's planned new headquarters, which resembles a space station. The building is currently under construction in Amsterdam and is scheduled to be completed next year. Another ad includes an expansive landscape and a fourth depicts a man holding a jar filled with lightning bolts.
The trade ads are also notable in that they list the 29 wholly-owned subsidiary companies that comprise ING, Wilks said. Each of these firms has retained its own name, following the ING imprimatur, Wilks said. The ING corporation includes the investment management firms ING Baring Asset Management, ING Delta Asset Management and ING Furman Selz Capital Management, Wilks said.
In the insurance, variable life and annuity businesses, the ING family also includes ING Life of Georgia and ING Equitable Life, Wilks said. In addition, ING offers retail and investment banking services, he said.
ING Funds have raised $1 billion in assets under management in just over a year since they began because ING salespeople emphasize to distributing partners ING's strength as a collection of "market-leading companies," McCoy said. ING salespeople also emphasize to broker/dealers, insurance agents, banks and financial planners that ING can offer them a single selling agreement covering mutual fund, annuity, insurance and banking products, McCoy said.
Although the ads do not include any call to action, they have received an overwhelmingly positive response of more than 300 inquiries a month from financial planners, broker/dealers and bank representatives, Wilks said.
Wilks declined to disclose ING's advertising budget "for competitive reasons," he said. The retail advertising campaign will be supplemented by a media tour of top ING marketing executives, Wilks said.