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The Dreyfus Lion Roars to a Different Tune


The Dreyfus Corp.'s ferocious feline mascot is back in action in a trio of all-new national advertisements. One print ad and two 30-second TV spots are scheduled to run into 2003.

But the flavor of the ads are bolder and the emphasis on "your advisor" is now front and center, no longer in the shadows of the bright spotlight shining on Dreyfus's competency as an investment manager. Each ad retains the three-year-old tagline "You, Your Advisor and Dreyfus."

While the famous Dreyfus lion will continue to be shown in his natural African habitat, the New York-based fund giant is using these ads to charge deeper into the financial intermediary jungle, stalking both financial planners and broker/dealers reps with a new and stronger message that unequivocally celebrates their expertise.

"One hundred percent of Dreyfus's growth over the last six years can be directly attributed to financial intermediaries," said Mike Millard, who assumed the title of president of Dreyfus in May. He replaced Tom Eggers, who left to join the Scudder funds' unit of Deutsche Asset Management [see MFMN 5/6/02, 7/1/02].

Dreyfus estimates that right now, more than 90% of new monies come through financial intermediaries.

The one new print ad whose copy reads, "In today's financial markets, opportunity abounds. Risk lurks. Don't go it alone. Let an advisor be your guide," has begun appearing nationally in The Wall Street Journal and will run in Fortune and Money. The TV spots will air during seven CNN programs including "Larry King Live," "Lou Dobbs Report," "Capital Gang" and "Moneyline Weekend."

One of the commercials boldly tells viewers, "Today's most intelligent investment. It's not a company. It's not an index. It's a partner." All three ads were created in-house with the help of consultants, said a Dreyfus spokeswoman.

Dreyfus' ads urge investors to "hunt" down a financial advisers who "have the tools, training and time it takes" to define an investment strategy.

"These ads are very different," said Millard, who spearheaded the firm's push into the financial planning channel way ahead of the market downturn [MFMN 4/26/99]. "They are really about getting financial advice from a professional, not about buying a particular fund from Dreyfus."

The print ad refers investors to a toll-free number to select among the 10,000 financial advisers with whom Dreyfus currently has relationships. Dreyfus began offering that matchmaking service two years ago but only makes the introduction and doesn't make recommendations or endorse any adviser, the company spokeswoman said.

Dreyfus' new ads are aimed at cementing bonds with financial intermediaries, as well as those investors who now use an adviser or who are at a crossroads wondering what they should be doing, Millard acknowledged. "I have not seen a preponderance of ads that are really promoting the role of the adviser," he said.

Fund companies often advertise to promote their funds, then tuck in a reminder that investors can get more information about those funds from their adviser. "At the end of the day, people don't pick up the phone and say [to their financial planner or broker], Buy me a Dreyfus fund.' They say, What should I do?,'" Millard said.

Pointing out the importance of financial advisers isn't an entirely new advertising message for 51-year-old Dreyfus, which, early on, planted its roots deeply into the direct-to-investor market. In the late 1990s Dreyfus began to grab for a larger piece of the intermediary-sold fund channel, eventually deciding it would all but abandon the direct-to-investor channel and focus on various intermediary channels for distribution.

Out of Africa

In October of 1999, Dreyfus originally debuted its new genre of live-action lion ads with footage shot in Africa, along with its new adviser-influenced tagline. That campaign was created by the now defunct Boston-based agency Holland, Mark, Edmund and Ingalls.

In those ads, Dreyfus took center stage and was portrayed as having similar characteristics as the strong, intelligent and confident lions displayed.

Still, despite Dreyfus' complete transformation from direct- to intermediary-sold, the lion continues to be a prominent mascot.

"A company's identity and brand are one, even when branding elements and icons change," said Jim Atkinson, principal of Orbis Marketing, a mutual fund consulting firm outside of Los Angeles.