Arnold Fires Citizens Ad Salvo

Citizens Bank has unveiled its first campaign from Arnold, less than a week after regional rival FleetBoston Financial broke its latest ads.

Citizens focuses on the quality of its service and uses real-life customer stories to help position the bank against larger competitors such as FleetBoston, which touts online banking in new ads featuring star shortstops Derek Jeter and Nomar Garciaparra.

TV spots from Citizens begin airing this week in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New Hampshire. In one ad, a Citizens teller realizes that the drive-through employee machine is not working, so she runs through a rainstorm to hand-deliver customers’ money and receipts. Print, radio and billboard efforts are also in the mix.

“Our historic focus on customers is our competitive advantage in the marketplace,” said Theresa McLaughlin, svp/director of marketing for Citizens. Ads retain the “Not your typical bank” positioning developed for the Boston-based client during its tenure with Holland Mark.

Citizens switched from Boston’s Holland Mark to crosstown shop Arnold without a review earlier this year. The ad budget is expected to rise from $15 million to about $40 million, sources said.

Citizens ranks as New England’s No. 2 bank, with 334 locations and more than $30 billion in assets. FleetBoston, the region’s largest bank, spends about $100 million annually on ads through Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, Boston. FleetBoston’s tagline is “Forward. Thinking.”