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Bear Stearns gets hip in new ad campaign

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Bear Stearns & Co., New York, this week launches an ad campaign on technology investment banking.

The campaign, created by New York-based agency Ryan Drossman/Marc USA, is aimed at start-ups and the e-commerce units of big companies. It consists of four ads, all of which suggest Bear Stearns offers a mixture of Web savvy and investment banking expertise. The ads will run in such magazines as Red Herring and The Industry Standard through year's end.

"Wrapping your arms around the Internet can be a thorny proposition," reads one of the ads. "You need the strength and stature of a major Wall Street institution. You also need a bank that's willing to turn conventional wisdom on its head." The copy is set against the image of a man clad in a starched shirt and tie, with barbed wire circling his arm.

"It's a paradox that we're posing, but that's what people need," said Audrey del Grosso, Bear Stearns managing director-advertising.

Another ad says Bear Stearns, which has a 29-person technology investment banking staff, can handle big and small accounts. "Whether you're a big company trying to squeeze into the Internet or a small company expanding to fill it, chances are you'll find Bear Stearns a perfect fit." The accompanying photo depicts a wingtip shoe pierced by a tongue ring.

Yet another ad points out that retaining Bear Stearns provides access to its non-Internet analysts, who can provide a multi-industry knowledge base. "The idea," said Matt Kasindorf, senior VP-client services at Ryan Drossman, "is that the bank will not just take you to the IPO, but beyond."

Bear Stearns is leading a fledgling movement that forsakes the standard, and often dreary, technology investment banking ad style in favor of a more creative one. Until recently, most tech banking ads had all the flair of a banker's black tube socks, centering on "tombstones," straightforward ads that announce a public offering. Credit Suisse First Boston and Merrill Lynch & Co. are also running creative tech banking ads.

Tombstones still accompany the Bear Stearns ads; they tout the bank's role in high-tech stock offerings, including those of America Online and Wit Capital Group.

Billings on Bear Stearns' campaign were not disclosed. The campaign will likely be extended to Web sites.

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