Draft Chicago Wins American Century, John Deere

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American Century Investments appointed Draft Chicago its direct marketing agency of record as the company tries to increase recognition among direct mutual fund investors.

The agency competed with Bernstein-Rein, Kansas City, MO, and Wunderman in a review handled by SRI and consultation from Catherine Bension. Incumbent Digitas, Boston, did not participate.

"The mandate to Draft was to develop a program specifically designed to motivate self-directed mutual fund investors to consider American Century," said Megan O'Connor, senior vice president and group account director at Draft Chicago.

The Kansas City investment management firm serves 2 million individual investors in addition to institutions, investment professionals and corporations. Offerings include mutual funds, separate and sub-advisory accounts, and commingled trusts.

With nearly $90 billion in assets, the 46-year-old firm is the fifth-largest direct-sold mutual fund manager by assets under management. But that has not won it the recognition it seeks from the wider investor market. Draft will use direct mail and online marketing to build brand awareness and response to targeted overtures.

Meanwhile, the same Draft office won its second new business of the year, adding John Deere, a Raleigh, NC, maker of engines and lawn and construction equipment. The 167-year-old company also distributes landscaping supplies and offers managed-healthcare services.

Draft Chicago will create promotions for John Deere's commercial and consumer equipment division. The nature of the promotions was not disclosed, though Draft is expected to help in the retail area.

The number or names of agencies that pitched were not disclosed, but participants included boutique shops from Atlanta. The incumbent's name was held back, too. That division of John Deere has worked with several agencies in the past on various promotions.


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