NEW IRAS PITCHED BY PRUDENTIAL AND LYNCH

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A variety of financial services companies are using ad campaigns to pitch the newly-created Roth Individual Retirement Accounts to consumers.

Prudential Securities, Merrill Lynch & Co. and Fidelity Investments are among those advertising Roth IRAs, a new investment vehicle created by the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997. Roth IRAs allow investors to make after-tax contributions up to 100% of their total compensation or $2,000, whichever is less.

8-WEEK CAMPAIGN

Fidelity is running an eight-week network and cable TV campaign that broke last week starring a character from the future who extols the virtue of the Roth IRA, first available last month.

A print effort playing off the TV ads breaks today in publications including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Business Week and Time.

Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, Boston, handles the campaign.

"For most people, [Roth IRAs are] the best alternative," said Stephen Cone, a former KeyCorp executive who earlier this month joined Fidelity as president of its customer marketing-personal investments and brokerage group. The challenge "is not overcomplicating it for them."

LYNCH ADS BY BOZELL

Along with Fidelity, Merrill Lynch is advertising Roth IRAs with print, Internet and TV ads handled by Bozell, New York.

Prudential Securities also is running TV, outdoor and print advertising, including an offer for a "20-minute IRA checkup," in which advisers determine whether consumers should roll over current IRAs into a Roth IRA. The ad effort is handled in-house.

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