FIRST UNION POURS $ INTO EAST COAST ADS: MARKETING CHIEF GARRITY'S FIRST CAMPAIGN USES MONEY IMAGERY

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Guided by a new high-profile ad executive, First Union Corp. is trying to make itself known in East Coast households from Connecticut to Key West.

The bank's latest effort is a print campaign that features historic and modern currencies to promote a wide range of products and sell First Union as a one-stop financial services provider.

The print executions bear the imprint of Jim Garrity, who joined First Union as senior VP-advertising four months ago. He came from Compaq Computer Corp., where he was VP-communications.

"We want to establish ourselves as experts on the subject of money," said Mr. Garrity.

$85 MIL FOR ADS

To get that job done, First Union has budgeted $85 million on ads during 1997, up 112.5% from last year. It plans to spend more in `98. Hal Riney & Partners, San Francisco, is the agency.

The magazine portion of the print campaign will break in September issues; newspaper ads broke last month in Atlantic Seaboard newspapers.

Along with Banc One Corp. and KeyCorp, First Union is one of the big regional banks working hard to build its brand image-a big challenge. Not only do banks need to push a varied mix of products and services, they're burdened by a lack of marketing experience and a limited geographic base.

"I don't see a lot of differentiation out there," said Richard Evans, president of consultancy Evans & Associates, and a former employee of Chase Manhattan Corp.

First Union, traditionally a Southern bank that entered the Northeast by acquiring First Fidelity Corp., is aware that a successful brand image can't be built in a day.

"We're measuring the brand campaign over a three-to-five-year period," Mr. Garrity said. "Our senior management understands it's a multiyear effort."

First Union's branding effort predates Mr. Garrity. The bank threw itself into branding last year by tapping Riney and parting ways with William Cook Agency, Jacksonville, Fla.

1ST RINEY ADS IN FEBRUARY

Riney had produced four TV spots that started running in February. They focus on the company's "union" of banking and brokerage services.

The print ads include details of currency from different countries. A caption explains the specimen's significance and the accompanying text plays off the art.

"I'd liken what we're doing to the Absolut vodka campaign," Mr. Garrity said. "It's a simple idea from which we can make very creative adaptations."

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