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Latest Bank Buyout Raises New Ad Questions


Citizens' Hal Tovin to Oversee Marketing After Deal With USTrust
BOSTON--Both Citizens Bank and USTrust have employed ad campaigns portraying themselves as friendly alternatives to the region's financial service giants.
That positioning may remain, even after Citizens' proposed $1.4 billion acquisition of USTrust is completed early next year, said Hal Tovin, chief marketing officer of Providence, R.I.-based Citizens. Tovin will oversee advertising for the combined entity, which will retain the Citizens name.
Ingalls in Boston handles ads for Citizens; Holland Mark Martin Edmund, also Boston, works for USTrust.
Hoping to avoid an agency review, Tovin said he will "spend some time talking to Bill [Davis]," chairman of Holland Mark, but added that Ingalls chairman "Bink [Garrison] is our partner" and Ingalls is likely to remain agency of record once the deal is done.
Garrison has approached Davis about a merger of agencies, sources said [Adweek, June 21]. A deal between Citizens and USTrust would eliminate a major conflict and might help pave the way for the shops to unite.
Citizens recently hired Copernicus, a brand consultancy in Auburndale, Mass., to help with its strategic positioning, Tovin said. The results of that exercise will be applied to post-merger campaigns, Tovin said. However, Citizens' agency of record will continue to have final say over "taglines, execution--things like that," he said.
Citizens ads claim the company is "Not your typical bank"; USTrust portrays itself as "The other big bank." Tovin noted the similarity in positioning and said the overall strategy will likely remain. Citizens and USTrust both have low-seven-figure ad budgets. Overall spending and TV buys will increase after the merger, Tovin said.
Citizens would become the region's No. 2 bank, with $28 billion in overall assets. FleetBoston, formed through Fleet Financial Group's pending acquisition of BankBoston, will have $178 billion in assets.
The latter deal also has raised questions about which roster shop--Arnold Communications or Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, both in Boston--would handle a combined ad assignment.