Leading Ladies Cast in Schwab's CRM Role

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When you have $765 billion in client assets and more than 3.3 million customers conducting business with you exclusively online, you can't afford to stage any part of your customer relationship management plan like a dress rehearsal. Especially when one of your key service components is a new one-on-one portfolio consultation product.


Enter Charles Schwab & Co. Inc., New York, and its latest campaign, featuring actress Sally Field and author Jackie Collins. The push is part of the company's ongoing "Smarter Investors" campaign, which debuted last fall. Since August, the program has featured a number of high-profile personalities along with the tag line "Creating a world of smarter investors" to underscore how Schwab's network of tools and information can help consumers meet their personal financial goals. The commercials then are followed up with print and direct mail communications.


The latest spots, produced by advertising agency BBDO, New York, aired during last night's 72nd annual Academy Awards telecast and focused specifically on the availability of Schwab's Portfolio Consultation and investment adviser referral services. The spots are supported by a local area television advertising effort and an eight-page newspaper and magazine insert in major newspapers and business magazines, including Business Week, Forbes, Fortune and The Wall Street Journal. The campaign includes online marketing and banner messaging, and a targeted direct mail campaign produced by Bronner, San Francisco, will roll out to more than 1 million households next month.


In Field's spots, the actress talks directly to camera, saying, "You like me. Thank you. Thank you. You really like me," reminiscent of her Oscar acceptance speech for 1984's "Places in the Heart." The commercial then cuts to reveal that she is talking to a Charles Schwab representative, who says, "Actually, Ms. Field, we help thousands of our customers find independent advisers to manage their investment portfolio."


The commercial starring Collins features a woman alone on a veranda overlooking the Mediterranean as a handsome man approaches. They embrace. Suddenly, she pushes him away as we hear Collins' voice-over describing the scene: "Oh, Nick, my portfolio is totally unbalanced. Three of my mutual funds are underperforming, and I've been far too concentrated in small-cap stocks."


Schwab is positioning its Portfolio Consultation service as a personal evaluation product to help investors meet their financial goals by assessing how well their portfolios are doing and how to make them better. Consultations are conducted by a Schwab registered investment specialist. The company says a Personal Action Plan is the end product of the consultation.


Glen Mathison, executive vice president of corporate communications at Schwab, said the company is clearly targeting high-end investors.


"Generally, people with more than $100,000 in assets are going to be our prime prospects," he said. Spending millions of dollars to target these specific individuals would be cost-efficient as a brand-reinforcement campaign alone, but the company was confident about the number of new one-to-one customer relationships that would directly result.


Len Short, Schwab's executive vice president for advertising and brand management, concurred, noting that "BBDO's previous work on Schwab's 'Smarter Investors' series helped "put a face on our company."


Schwab is charging $400 for its portfolio service - which includes two in-office visits with a certified representative, a detailed report on how the customer's assets have performed against key benchmarks and suggestions for alternative investments that may increase the investor's overall return.

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