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MoneyGram Wires New Campaign

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CME Sics Sassy 'Money Gram' Character on Rival Western Union
CHICAGO--MoneyGram Payment Services takes the offensive in its effort gain market share on rival wire transfer company Western Union with a new campaign that breaks today.
The effort, Campbell Mithun Esty's debut for the client, introduces a grandmotherly spokeswoman of sorts dubbed "The Money Gram." The Minneapolis agency expects the sassy woman to become a "lovable hero" for MoneyGram's traditional users, identified as urban, ethnic women who don't have traditional banking relationships.
"She personifies [MoneyGram as] the brand protectorate of these people," said Steve Ostrander, a management supervisor at CME.
In two of the spots, she challenges Western Union's higher prices, noting that MoneyGram offers lower fees and grants users a free phone call with each transaction.
In a third spot, she announces that the Denver-based company will become a national sponsor of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
The campaign is tagged, "Where's your money going?"
"It's a way to give back to the people who are our primary users," said Jeff Wilcox, MoneyGram's vice president of marketing.
MoneyGram's previous campaign, from New York agency MacNamara, Stewart, Saperstein, depicted humorous situations in which people needed money quickly. It was tagged, "Money well sent--worldwide."
Strengthening MoneyGram's identity is intended to raise its profile in a category dominated by Western Union, Paramus, N.J., which holds 80 percent of the wire transfer market, Wilcox said.
MoneyGram spent about $11.5 million on advertising through the first 10 months of 1998, according to Competitive Media Reporting, but that figure will jump "significantly" this year, Wilcox said. The company was purchased last July by Minneapolis-based Travelers Express, which brought in a new commitment to advertising, he said.
Western Union spent $24 million on advertising over the first 10 months of 1998, according to CMR.
Campbell Mithun Esty won the account last November following a review that included Carmichael Lynch and Martin/Williams, both Minneapolis, and Chicago agencies DDB Needham and E. Morris Communications.