Citizens Joins Regional Banking Blitz

BOSTON Poaching season has intensified in the New England banking community as Citizens Bank joins the hunt for customers affected by the imminent Bank of America $47 billion buyout of FleetBoston Financial.

Havas’ Arnold touts Citizens’ new free Green Checking account in print, radio and television ads. Print work broke on Feb. 15, with TV ads launching on Feb. 23.

One print execution features a color photograph of a Citizens customer and carries the headline, “Other checking accounts are green with envy.” The copy reads, “Free checking with convenient direct deposit. At Citizens, you can trust us like you trust a neighbor. Because we are your neighbors. We live and work in the communities we serve.” The ad concludes, “Maybe that’s why our bankers are so friendly and know their customers by name. Or maybe it’s because they’re just happy to offer affordable and convenient services to neighbors.”

The campaign employs the “Not your typical bank” tagline that Arnold introduced in 2001; the print campaign is running in metropolitan and community newspapers across New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

“We’re always putting out, looking for ways to meet their changing needs. [Through research] we heard a free checking with direct deposit would be worthwhile. We thought this would be a great addition to our lineup,” said Melodie Jackson, senior vice president and director of public affairs for Citizens Bank in Boston. “In addition to making sure we’re servicing our existing clients – we are absolutely looking to bring aboard new customers.”

In 2003 through November, the client spent $12 million, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

In January, competitor Banknorth broke an effort from agency Via promoting its SimplyFree checking account featuring hockey star Ray Bourque. Sovereign Bancorp has also been promoting its free personal and business checking accounts.