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Ads Target Advisers With Product Array

The competition to win over financial advisers and their clients is heating up. Two investment management firms, Ameriprise Financial of Minneapolis, and Old Mutual Capital of London and Boston, recently launched multimedia ad campaigns specifically aimed at investment advisers and reps at regional broker/dealers and independent dealers.

Ameriprise has rolled out its very first campaign for its RiverSource Investments products and mutual funds since spinning off from its American Express parent company in 2005. The print and online campaign initially includes three low-key ads developed with DeSola Group of New York.

The first is an image ad that promotes the RiverSource brand by offering solutions to meet advisers' two pressing problems: the need for more product choices and the need for more time. The ad quietly points to RiverSource's 60 single-strategy funds without detailing them, as well as the firm's preassembled portfolio solutions that include asset allocation funds and funds-of-funds.

The second ad promotes the firm's so-called "advice-built solutions" by briefly introducing four proprietary products: the RiverSource Investments Strategic Allocation Fund, the Portfolio Builder Series of six portfolios with graduating risk profiles, the Income Builder Series that offers three portfolios geared toward wealth preservation, and its Retirement Plus Series, a choice of eight portfolios tied to target retirement dates.

Ameriprise is throwing a one-two marketing punch by running these two ads concurrently in publications such as sister publications Financial Planning and On Wall Street, as well as Investment News and Investment Advisor. The goal is to introduce the brand, then immediately follow-up a page or two later with product solutions. Online ads will appear on MarketWatch and Bloomberg.

A third print ad, set to debut today, will promote the strong performance of four of the RiverSource equity funds. A fourth ad that will highlight the performance of other proprietary funds is in development now with the possibility of a fifth and sixth ad later this year.

The goal is to articulate who the company is, present RiverSource as an independent brand and show that it offers very competitive products, said Andy Washburn, vice president of marketing at RiverSource Funds. "Right now, there is very little brand name recognition of RiverSource," he conceded. That's not a drawback. Rather, Washburn sees it as a huge opportunity to paint a new image on a blank canvass and shape the way advisers view the brand. Not a single consumer-targeted ad is planned. "We need to build the recognition at the intermediary level first," he noted.

The ads are part of Ameriprise's 2007 master plan to broaden out distribution beyond its 10,000-person national network of Ameriprise financial advisers. "2007, for us, is the year we are going external," Washburn said.

Reaching even further out and trying to get a toehold in the fiercely competitive wirehouse channel is not in the cards for this year or next-"but we'll get there," Washburn said.

Ameriprise has already inked selling group agreements with six external distribution firms, with hopes of signing another six this year. And by mid-year it hopes to have 16 teams of internal and external wholesalers in place, Washburn noted. So far, it's halfway to that internal wholesaler goal and has some sales managers in place. The firm has a separate set of 22 teams of internal and external wholesalers in place to work with its proprietary advisers.

Old Mutual also just debuted print ads that are part of its first-ever national brand-building initiative. This campaign is focused on elevating Old Mutual's profile and promoting the quality of its entrepreneurial institutional asset management network of 13 affiliates. The new campaign includes broadcast, trade and consumer print, and interactive ads.

The firm's promotion also includes a three-year deal with new company spokesman Trevor Immelman, the 2006 PGA Rookie of the Year. Immelman will tee off in late March in the Tavistock Cup tournament in Orlando, Fla. Old Mutual is one of the event's sponsors.

One early print ad simply showcases an old fashioned, nearly filled milk bottle set on a vibrant green background. Just the top inch or so, the cream portion, of the bottle's contents is acknowledged with the words: "Our standard." The ad also promises what most adviser-sold mutual funds have been quietly doing behind the scenes with a slew of value-added services-helping advisers build their businesses.

"Backed by value-added sales support and dedicated consultative-based service, the only rival to our drive for quality is our drive to help you build your book into a more profitable practice," the ad promises.

The ads were developed by creative agency Kilgannon of Atlanta. Old Mutual executives were not available for comment.

The key to any good brand ad, even for B-to-B businesses, lies in both understanding what makes the client tick and being able to break through the "blandscape" of similar-looking ads, said Rena Kilgannon, president of the firm. "You have to be where the consumer is in his or her life," she added.

(c) 2007 Money Management Executive and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.