To stop the hemorrhaging, Chairman-CEO Frank Newman, a former deputy secretary in the Treasury Department and chief financial officer at Bank of America, was hired last November in a reshuffling of top management. Mr. Newman requested a new image-enhancing worldwide campaign by Jan. 1, 1996.
FULL SPEED AHEAD
Ms. Boucher, 32, had taken over the centralized global advertising responsibilities only two months before, after joining the bank the prior year from consultant, Corporate Performance Systems. But she plunged in anyhow, leading an exhaustive agency review and market repositioning.
Five months later, on April 17, Bankers Trust unveiled a $7 million global print campaign in the U.S. and 55 overseas markets with an open letter from Mr. Newman emphasizing the bank's global resources, innovation and performance. This month, the campaign continues with full-scale media spending.
Handled by Fallon McElligott Berlin, New York, the "Architects of Value" campaign seeks to position Bankers Trust among CEOs and CFOs worldwide as a global financial institution that, like an architect, works in collaboration with clients for best results. The theme, supplemented with client case studies, crosses borders well so ads aren't customized nationally, Ms. Boucher said.
The global image campaign travels so well, she added, that ad managers at the bank's 10 business product units worldwide are adapting it in local markets for target marketing.
Mirroring the bank's business, the global campaign splits the budget evenly between the Americas and overseas markets. Europe gets 50% of the international dollars while Asia gets 30%. Most ads, in English, run in key international financial press, leading regional and country newspapers, and financial trade publications. The media schedule includes the Financial Times, The Economist, Newsweek International, Far Eastern Economic Review, The Wall Street Journal, Euromoney, Business Week and The New York Times. In a few markets, Japan and China included, ads are translated for local-language newspapers.
WHAT A YEAR
"It's been a tremendous year," said Ms. Boucher. "How often do you get to do a major institutional review and launch a new ad campaign? I was there at the right time."
"Our advertising message was getting attention at the uppermost level because we had gone through a period of time where much of the public attention was focused on the derivatives issue rather than our many products and we needed to come back," said Doug Kidd, manager of corporate affairs at Bankers Trust, who promoted Ms. Boucher from advertising manager of investment banking last September.
"Our research told us that we were known as a very innovative, leading-edge financial institution, but that maybe we were too aggressive and self-interested, a little too smart and too risk-taking," added Ms. Boucher. Previous ads by Merkley Newman Harty, which portrayed executives confronting giant obstacles, reinforced a negative risk-taking image.
With consultant Arthur Einstein, a founding partner of Lord, Dentsu & Partners in New York, Ms. Boucher and Mr. Kidd evaluated 20 agencies with these criteria: global capabilities, sufficient size to receive attention and resources, understanding of financial services, no client conflicts, quality creative and a New York location.
Twelve agencies made the cut. Over the Christmas holiday and early January, Ms. Boucher and Mr. Kidder visited the 12, selecting the finalists: Fallon McElligott Berlin, Margeotes Fertitta & Partners and Graf Bertel Buczek.
"We gave the three an assignment that was strategic in nature. We wanted to choose the agency not on the basis of an exciting ad but on their understanding of us. We asked them to look at how we regarded ourselves and how we were perceived internationally and to reconcile the two."
In February, the finalists presented marketing strategies to a senior management committee, including Ms. Boucher, Mr. Kidd and CEO Mr. Newman. Two remaining contenders-Fallon McElligott Berlin and Margeotes Fertitta-were invited for a final, more detailed presentation two weeks later.
Agency partners Pat Fallon and Andy Berlin played videotapes and audio recordings of original research conducted with 12-member focus groups in London and New York and by phone interviews in the bank's key overseas markets. Ewen Cameron, director of strategic planning at Fallon McElligott Berlin, said that as many as 20 positioning themes were tested, with feedback on the architect campaign scoring "incredibly positive. Most other banks' image ads stress relationship building, trust or longevity, but this ad emphasizes what Bankers Trust needed to convey- performance."
"Fallon was the only finalist to conduct original global research," said Ms. Boucher, adding, "We're actually using the theme line that Fallon used in the pitch. That doesn't happen every day."
The agency learned about the win from Mr. Newman personally, only a few minutes after finishing its pitch. Now for the hard work: proving the ads have delivered results. Stay tuned for follow-up research-and 1996 financial performance figures.