MYDISCOUNTBROKER'S $40 MIL CHALLENGES MUCH-LARGER RIVALS

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Online stock broker Mydiscountbroker.com breaks its first major advertising campaign Wednesday, a $40 million effort that will try to put the young company in the same league as competitors E*Trade and Charles Schwab & Co.

The campaign, via Marcus & Associates, Dallas, breaks on CNBC and will be supported by online advertising, including sponsorships of CNBC's site, cnbc.com, and Gomez Advisors' e-commerce consulting site, www.gomez.com. Print will bow in September in publications including Barron's and USA Today.

Marketecture, San Antonio, Texas, handles media buying for the company.

INVESTMENTS 'YOUR WAY'

TV spots, tagged "Your investments. Your way," feature a variety of online traders, including retired men, a woman in her 30s and a middle-aged couple. Each spot focuses on a different aspect of Mydiscountbroker.com, such as instant trade notification, a flat fee of $12 per order for up to 5,000 shares of stock and 24-hour technical support.

Mydiscountbroker.com was launched in February 1998, but has only spent "a couple of million" on advertising since then, said President Bruce Zucker. The company waited to advertise to make certain the site was free of bugs and was truly friendly to users before rolling a major ad campaign, he said.

Mydiscountbroker.com was established as the Web site of Sovereign Securities, a traditional discount broker founded in 1996. By April 1999, online trades were generating so much of the business that it took the site's name.

BANKING TO BE ADDED

The discount broker's parent company, Southwest Securities Group, recently bought First Savings bank of Arlington, a Dallas-area regional bank it plans to take online shortly. The company has plans to launch a co-branded site, www.mybankusa.com, as early as next quarter, said Mr. Zucker. The two sites will be linked to give customers the tools to do financial planning themselves, he said.

Mydiscountbroker.com is far smaller than online brokers such as E*Trade (www.etrade.com) and Schwab (www.schwab.com), but Mr. Zucker said it can catch up.

"We feel we're going to be a direct competitor to those [companies]," he said.

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