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Small Bank Seeks the Stranded

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Fuse-Created Campaign Takes Aim at Fleet-BankBoston Deal
BOSTON--A small Massachusetts firm is appealing to Fleet Bank customers who may be left behind after the merger with BankBoston.
Newburyport, Mass.-based First & Ocean National Bank this week launches a month-long ad effort that asks: "Is Fleet setting sail without you?"
The campaign, created by Fuse Total Marketing Outsource, also in Newburyport, includes newspaper ads, direct mail pieces and billboards appearing on Massachusetts' North Shore and the southern New Hampshire seacoast, where the bank's five branches are located.
One print execution encourages Fleet customers whose accounts are being sold to "jump ship to First & Ocean." Copy continues, "Don't be left stranded in the wake of yet another merger. Come to First & Ocean. We've been providing innovative community banking for over 180 years."
Tracy Hartman, brand communications manager at Fuse, acknowledges that the campaign pits David against Goliath. First & Ocean, with $200 million in assets, is dwarfed by the new Fleet Bank, which will have $190 billion in assets, making it the eighth largest bank in the nation.
First & Ocean believes that customers of the more than 300 BankBoston or Fleet branches sold next year to satisfy government regulators will be tired of the constant mergers they have lived through in the New England market, Hartman said.
Fleet executives could not be reached for comment on the First & Ocean campaign.
There also is no word yet on how the merger will affect the companies' Boston-based roster shops. Arnold Communications is Fleet's agency of record; Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos handles BankBoston.
Arnold's current work for Fleet revolves around the client's sponsorship of Major League Baseball. Hill, Holliday worked all summer on a research project leading to the combined entity's name, which will reportedly be Fleet.
Executives at both Arnold and Hill, Holliday are optimistic that there is enough Fleet business to go around.
Sources said that more crucial questions regarding the organization of the merged entity, such as the formation of its board announced early last week, top the list of concerns, with advertising running well below that.