Financial services on prowl for shops

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The stock markets were closed for the holiday April 21, but financial services marketers were busy nonetheless. Broker Charles Schwab & Co. added two agencies, and insurer Kemper Insurance Cos. cut its review to three finalists.

Schwab tapped the Martin Agency, Richmond, Va., and GSD&M, Austin, Texas, for two new assignments worth a minimum of $40 million. Martin will handle a $10 million assignment to market various Schwab products to women, while GSD&M was handed an assignment valued at about $30 million to relaunch OneSource, Schwab's mutual fund "supermarket" product.

WOMEN'S ADS THIS SUMMER

The women's assignment will kick off in late summer -- mainly with print ads and promotions -- and the OneSource relaunch will follow in the third quarter, said Len Short, exec VP-advertising and brand management. The former is a new account, while OneSource had been handled by a succession of Boston agencies, but had not been widely supported recently, he said.

The OneSource relaunch and the women's initiative are both part of Schwab's strategy to claim leadership among retail investors, Mr. Short said. Although the two assignments are budgeted at $40 million, it is likely the spending will be higher, he said. Schwab spent a total of $191 million in measured media in 1999, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

"We're out to win," Mr. Short said. "We're out to be the dominant player in those areas, so we're going to spend to do that."

Meanwhile, Kemper next month will choose among three Midwest shops for a new agency of record to handle a renewed marketing effort. The insurer narrowed its search to Cramer-Krasselt, Chicago, and Minneapolis shops Carmichael Lynch and Martin/Williams. The winner takes the insurance company's estimated $10 million to $12 million account from Kemper Lesnick, Chicago (which shares a name but has no corporate ties to the marketer).

The agency search is part of an increased focus on branding and includes a new corporate identity, said Joel Borgardt, VP-corporate marketing.

Mr. Borgardt, who joined the company at the beginning of the year, said the advertising media budget has been increased 10% to 20% from 1999 levels. Kemper launched a new brand identity and logo in November to stress its insurance activities and to help differentiate itself from Kemper Funds, an unrelated mutual fund company that shares its name.

NEEDS FULL-SERVICE SHOP

Kemper Lesnick was initially hired to work on sports marketing projects and public relations efforts, Mr. Borgardt said. But as Kemper Insurance expanded its marketing efforts, it needed a full-service agency that could handle integrated marketing, Mr. Borgardt added. The winning agency will handle both creative and media, as well as interactive marketing and other duties.

The three will make final presentations that will not include spec creative, Mr. Borgardt said. Instead, Kemper executives will meet with the winning agency and develop a new positioning and campaign. Jones Lundin Associates, Chicago, is handling the review, which is expected to wrap up in late May.

Contributing: Laura Petrecca.

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