Merrill Lynch & Co.

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Merrill Lynch & Co.'s Global Markets and Investment Banking Group launched its first global advertising campaign in six years in the fourth quarter of last year, and by spring market research among its core clients indicated perceptions had already begun to change.

"Not only are messages resonating, but people are starting to think about Merrill Lynch in a different way," said Marie Chinnici, first VP-marketing and communications for the Global Markets and Investment Banking Group and the key architect of the campaign. "Seeing the results and having clients recognize and relate to the message is the biggest accomplishment," she said.

The results, Chinnici said, "have given us the impetus to put more effort behind the program. We invested more money in advertising overall this year."

A large part of the company's strategy over the past several months has been to align the campaign with sponsorships, conferences, events and collateral materials, as well as internal marketing efforts. "We've made a great push to bring everything together this year," Chinnici said.

The campaign to date has largely focused on print, with ads appearing in business publications such as The Wall Street Journal and BusinessWeek. Chinnici said print was the best way to spend the limited ad budget but added other forms of advertising will be tested soon and the 2006 budget will be increased.

Merrill Lynch overall spent $25.6 million in advertising in 2004, and $17 million in the first half of 2005. Global Markets and Investment Banking is one of three core businesses at Merrill Lynch. The others are Global Private Client and Merrill Lynch Investment Managers.

"As we get into the fourth quarter, we want to experiment with some more nontraditional forms of advertising," Chinnici said. That will include outdoor advertising. "Specifically, we will do some advertising in first-class airport lounges. Our target client base does extensive traveling. We want to see how effective it is in reaching our markets."

In 2006, the company will also experiment with online advertising, though no decisions on the form it will take have been made, Chinnici said. Search marketing is not in the cards right now, but banner advertising to point users to a URL to get more information, download white papers or sign up for a Web seminar, are likely, she said.

The Global Markets and Investment Banking Group will also create specific product-focused ads, in addition to ads focused on client solutions, Chinnici said. Those products include prime brokerage, foreign exchange and structured products.

"We'll make minor modifications to the campaign itself based on feedback, but mostly we'll be continuing the campaign around the same theme," Chinnici said. -Carol Krol

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