NYSE Targets IPOs With 'Big Stage' Ads

TV Spots Aim to Position NYSE Euronext As Go-to Exchange vs. Nasdaq, Especially for Tech

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With the market for initial public offerings heating up, so is the competition between the NYSE Euronext and Nasdaq to list them.

In this NYSE ad, a ballerina limbers up.
In this NYSE ad, a ballerina limbers up.

As part of the battle, the NYSE, home of the Big Board, launched a campaign last month dubbed "The Big Stage." It includes TV ads featuring recent IPOs and a website offering content marketing such as videos and articles highlighting its listed companies. NYSE worked on the campaign with Digitas, which it hired less than a year ago.

The 30-second TV spots, airing on CNN, CNBC and Bloomberg TV, show a ballerina getting ready for a performance, a swimmer warming up before a competition, a singer dressing before a concert and a CEO prepping to ring the bell at the NYSE. Each spot is customized with the actual bell ringing by a startup that recently went public. The NYSE logo appears only at the end.

Tech companies have traditionally picked Nasdaq—the first automated exchange when it was created 40 years ago -- over the much older NYSE. But the line has blurred.

"Five years ago when I joined, we were perceived as your grandfather's exchange," said Marisa Ricciardi, global head of marketing and branding at NYSE Euronext. "Not anymore." The exchange has attracted well-known startups such as Yelp, Pandora and LinkedIn in recent years, which she says "wouldn't have been within our reach a few years ago." Oracle also recently announced it would leave Nasdaq for NYSE.

Nasdaq, for its part, continues to be a destination for high-profile tech startups like Facebook, which had a rocky, technologically challenged debut on the exchange last year. But to increase its market share, Nasdaq has persuaded companies such as Kraft Foods and Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. to leave NYSE. "We love our tech heritage, but we also view ourselves as a platform appropriate for any company," said Nelson Griggs, senior VP-new listings and capital markets at Nasdaq.

Plenty of new business is on the line. According to a June 24 report from Ernst & Young, there were 67 new registrants in the second quarter, an 86% increase over the first quarter. And while pricing varies between the two exchanges, fees range from $125,000 to $250,000 for the initial listing and $35,000 to $500,000 annually to keep the listing, depending on the number of shares outstanding.

Both exchanges say they have diversified their mix of marketing to broaden their reach. "The competition between the two exchanges is certainly elevated right now," Mr. Griggs said. "It's a great time to be a company looking to list because both companies will go the extra mile."

Nasdaq, for example, helps its listed companies advertise in News Corp.'s Wall Street Journal and other Dow Jones outlets and co-brands the ads. It has also been creating videos with startups to target the college community through Viacom's MTVU. Mr. Griggs said Nasdaq doesn't have a TV campaign running and declined to disclose the name of its ad agency.

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