Morgan Stanley pursues younger, well-heeled investors

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Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co. breaks a new campaign this week to lure new and budding millionaires.

The effort, from Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, aims at younger consumers than those targetted by previous campaigns, said Jeff Finkler, executive creative director at Burnett. The company spends around $150 million a year on advertising and marketing, of which the new campaign will constitute a substantial portion.

"Before, we were talking to baby boomers and up. Now it's baby boomers and . . . those somewhat younger, with somewhat lower asset levels," he said. "We don't want people to think this is a stodgy firm for Thurston Howell," the blowhard millionaire on "Gilligan's Island," "[but we still want to] maintain the stature and presence that comes with the name."

Mr. Finkler warned the brokerage is interested in the Internet crowd as well as the monied set. "These are the types of people who already like to invest online, and we want to make sure we get their business rather than its going to someone like an Ameritrade or an E-trade. They might have thought `Morgan Stanley Dean Witter is not for me. That's for older, more successful people.' Yes, that's true, but it's also for younger people. We are a digitally connected company."


The "Well Connected" campaign will stress Morgan Stanley's reputation, along with services such as research, assistance with initial public offerings and financial analysis. The ads carry sassy lines such as "Being smart doesn't necessarily make you a financial success," "Believing in yourself only goes so far" and "It's not who you know. It's what who you know knows."

Print breaks Aug. 29, with TV and online following.

"There are some very sobering thoughts in the ads. They may not sit well, but if you think about them, you realize they have useful, helpful truths that you can act on right away," Mr. Finkler said. "We decided it was not wise to mollycoddle people or to promise them quick fixes. We decided to tell them the most profitable way to financial success is to follow trusted, tried and true methods."


According to estimates from market researcher Spectrem Group, the number of U.S. households with more than $1 million in assets (not including the value of their homes) has more than doubled, to 7.1 million from 3.4 million in 1994. That means a lot of profit is at stake for brokers and money managers. According to a survey from Merrill Lynch & Co. and consultant Cap Gemini, millionaires around the world hold $22.5 trillion in assets, with the figure projected to grow by 12% annually -- to $44.9 trillion by 2004.

Many financial services companies have adjusted their pitches accordingly in an effort to reach the new money. Industry observers note the nature of the wealthy investor has changed, and the average millionaire is now more likely to be a young entrepreneur than the middle-age heir to an old-money fortune.

"Being well connected used to be applied only to wealthy people who hung out in gentlemen's clubs and smoked cigars in red leather chairs," Mr. Finkler said. "What we're hoping you'll notice is that you can become as well connected as [they are] by accessing our capabilities and our services."

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