Banknorth Offers Locals Chance for ‘Day With Ray’

As competitor FleetBoston Financial’s $47 billion sale to Bank of America enters the final stages, Banknorth hopes to bolster its image as New England’s hometown bank with a new campaign from Via featuring ex-Boston Bruins hockey star Ray Bourque—and his bobblehead.

The effort, Bourque’s first for the client since he signed on as spokes- man in August, includes print, radio, outdoor, point-of-purchase, direct mail and public relations. The work also features a promotion that offers customers a chance to “Win a day with Ray Bourque.”

One lighthearted black-and-white print ad shows Bourque in a Bruins jersey and reads, “Imagine how much fun it would be to hang out with a Bruins legend. Just open a SimplyFree Checking account, and you’re entered.” The execution adds, “You’ll also take home a limited-edition Ray Bourque bobblehead.” Another ad shows the bobblehead doll with similar copy.

The effort retains the tagline “It’s nice knowing,” introduced by Via two years ago.

“We asked Via to come up with a campaign that mirrored what we did in the past in terms of offering premiums, but we also wanted to get the word out about Ray,” said Rick Dempsey, evp of marketing. “The bobblehead doll was incorporated into it because we wanted to offer something [to everyone, since] only one person will win the day with Ray.”

Banknorth and Via sought to maintain the look of past work, which featured black-and-white ads and ordinary-looking people, said Greg Smith, executive creative director at the independent shop. “[Bourque] seemed to fit in with what Banknorth stands for as a brand,” said Smith.

Humorous radio spots feature the voices of Bourque and actor Kevin Kline, who suggests ways a winner could spend a day with Bourque, including enjoying a hockey game. (Kline has been doing radio voiceovers for the brand for two years.)

Portland, Maine-based Banknorth will be the largest bank headquartered in New England following FleetBoston’s sale to Charlotte, N.C.-based BofA. Banknorth had 2002 sales of $1.5 billion, a 0.4 percent increase from 2001, according to Hoover’s Online.

The chain’s spending in the first quarter will be up 25 percent, said Dempsey, who declined to specify the budget. Banknorth spent $2 million on ads through October last year, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

Print ads are running in The Boston Globe and local newspapers in Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire. Radio spots are airing on local stations in those states.

Banknorth has 370 branches on the East Coast. Other competitors include Citizens Bank and Sovereign Bankcorp.