Via to Reposition Brown & Co.

Via will recast Brown & Co. as a lifestyle choice, not an investment option, in its first work breaking next spring for the discount brokerage.

The independent shop in Portland, Maine, outpaced 20-year incumbent Gearon Hoffman and New York shops Foote Cone & Belding, Gotham and TBWA\Chiat\Day to win the business following a review [Adweek, Dec. 9].

Brown, a unit of J.P. Morgan Chase, last year spent just under $10 million on ads, per CMR. The budget is expected to rise in 2003, said Via principal Ken Dec.

In addition to creating television and print ads, long staples under Gearon Hoffman, more emphasis will be placed on direct and online marketing, as well as on promotions to forge lasting personal relationships with investors, said Dec, who led Via’s winning pitch team.

Although a client representative declined to discuss the rationale behind Via’s selection, agency executives cited that all-encompassing approach as being a key factor in the account win.

When the review began in September, cli-ent vp, marketing Laurie McLachlan said she was looking for “creative that’s distinctive, effective in terms of lead generation and account acquisition, and builds … a connection with our target over time.”

Brown competes against higher-profile companies such as Charles Schwab and E*Trade, which recently placed its account in review.

Brown investors are “so deep into it that it’s a lifestyle to them,” said Via creative director Greg Smith. “It’s not, ‘What am I goingto do with my money?’ but ‘Whatwill I do with my passion.’ “

Creative presented by Via during the pitch retained Brown’s current tagline, “Where your experience pays off.” It has not been determined whether the initial work will introduce a new slogan.

The client becomes one of Via’s largest, along with Banknorth, and represents its second national account win in recent months. That addition was Raytheon, which Via won earlier this fall.

Brown and Raytheon help solidify the agency’s status as one of the region’s more notable midsize players, capable of winning national business against larger, better established shops, said Via president John Coleman.

“I believe in the market. I believe in me” is the tagline in a recent TV effort from Gearon Hoffman. The spot shows a Brown investor managing her trading on her computer, interspersed with shots of her swimming in a lake.