Celebrities Help Martin/Williams Introduce New U.S. Bank Brand

The financial services company formerly known as First Bank today announces a name change with a multimedia campaign from Martin/Williams, Minneapolis.
The campaign, breaking in 25 markets in 11 states, officially heralds the shift in identity to U.S. Bank by using images of celebrities who had either changed their names or were known by nicknames.
TV, print and outdoor ads use images of George Burns, Marilyn Monroe and Babe Ruth alongside their original names: Nathan Birnbaum, Norma Jeane Baker and George Herman Ruth, respectively. The headline on the print ads explains, “First Bank changed its name, too.” In the TV spots, a voiceover expresses the same idea over newsreel footage of the subjects.
“The object was to make [the name change] seem as positive as possible,” said Tom Weyl, M/W chief creative officer. “That’s why we used celebrities that had good things happen to them after they changed their names.”
The agency chose Burns, Monroe and Ruth because each appeals to a different market segment, Weyl said. Burns brings comic entertainment; Monroe represents glamour, and Ruth comes from sports.
First Bank System Inc. of Minneapolis acquired Portland, Ore.-based U.S. Bancorp last August, creating the country’s 15th largest bank network, with branches in 17 states. Because of potential conflicts with the First Bank name around the country, the merged company adopted the new U.S. Bank name.
That change becomes official today.
The current campaign, reassuring First Bank’s clients that business will continue as normal, will be followed this summer by branding work to attract new customers.
First Bank System spent about $12 million on advertising in 1997, according to Competitive Media Reporting. U.S. Bancorp spent about $6 million.