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In a sharply tactical $80 million debut, Datek Online uses shards of falling glass to dramatically break through the clatter of online broker advertising.

Unable to match competitors' big-bucks budgets, the country's fourth-largest online trading company eschews island-owning tow truck drivers and other humorous advertising yarns in its multimedia effort beginning Oct. 21. Instead, the campaign aims to position Datek "as the serious online trading option," said Bozell New York Executive Creative Director Brent Bouchez, "vs. the likes of others that kind of position online trading as [winning] the lottery."


Datek's attention-getting format-

a 60-second spot-along with its high-profile ad buy on NBC-TV's broadcast of the first World Series game are designed for maximum impact, as is the spot.

The commercial opens with everyday people crashing through a barrier outside a stock exchange. As they press up against a glass wall in an observation deck, the glass shatters, showering onto surprised traders. Voice-over talks about the trading tools that have been kept from non-professional investors.

"Until now, there has been a wall between you and the tools of serious trading," the voice-over says. "That wall is coming down."

The tag: "Datek Online-The rules are changing."


"We suggest Datek is about as close as you can get to being on Wall Street, to being in the middle of the fray-with all the tools, information and access," Mr. Bouchez said. "Datek is technology that professionals do use. If you're going to get in the market, you should have all the information you can get."

This is Bozell's first work for Datek, which it won in July. Teaser print and TV ads have run for a week on financial cable shows as well as in sports programming.

The new commercial, which eventually will be shortened to 30 seconds, will run on those shows as well as in prime-time slots. More spots will follow, along with print, radio and outdoor.

Datek joins a mounting swell of online brokers introducing new advertising this fall, with industry executives estimating a $1 billion to $1.5 billion ad outlay in the category during the next year (AA, Sept. 27).

Since September alone, marketers including Ameritrade Holding Corp., Charles Schwab & Co., E*Trade, Fidelity Investments and TD Waterhouse have joined in, seeking a slice of a market that ultimately could reach $1.1 trillion in assets.

Even with an $80 million budget-an enormous lift from the $3.6 million in measured media spent in the first half of 1999-Datek's outlay is dwarfed by the competition. E*Trades' spending is estimated at $300 million, while Schwab and Ameritrade are shelling out expenditures in the $200 million range.


"When everybody spends that much money, you have to find ways to stick out, and I think this is it," Mr. Bouchez said.

The serious approach is a calculated move. Brokers that run funny spots "are pulling at strings of people who don't know much about investing," said Bozell Account Supervisor Tom Trewhella. "They're positioning it as a way to make money, and that can be a dangerous message for people who don't know what they are doing."

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