CSFBdirect Breaks Campaign for Online Brokerage

CSFBdirect Inc. has kicked off a $10 million to $15 million advertising campaign to build awareness and attract prospects to its CSFBdirect.com online brokerage service.

The Jersey City, NJ, arm of investment bank Credit Suisse First Boston will run advertisements through the end of the year across television, radio, online and print.

“We want to continue to grow the business and when times are a little slow, that's a perfect time to make sure that you're one of the people that's out there and visible, so that you have a strong base to grow as the market recovers,” said Debra Isenberg, chief marketing officer at CSFBdirect.

Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG, New York, handles the account. It took over the account in June, replacing Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners, New York.

The campaign, the first since an introductory effort in January after CSFB's purchase of Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette, targets investors with assets of $100,000-plus who want hands-on control of their investments. The customer profile is primarily males 40 to 60 years old.

Ads stress the difference between ordinary online trading and direct investing.

Consider a print ad. The headline says, “When we introduced direct investing, the experts put us in our place.” Copy cites a Barron's 2001 annual survey that ranked CSFBdirect as the No. 1 online broker, and No. 1 for broadest range of investment choices and ease of use.

The ad points out that CSFBdirect goes beyond online trading to 10,000-plus mutual funds, bonds, options, managed accounts, a fixed income center, investment advice from CSFB analysts and independent research.

In a tie-in, the ad directs readers to the CSFBdirect keyword at America Online.

On television, the firm shows a confident young woman making decisions about her financial future. Three spots kicked off during U.S. Open tennis matches, followed by a rollout on national network and cable channels, including CNBC, Bloomberg, MSNBC, CNNfn and CNN.

Radio includes spots read live by announcers and prerecorded spots in the New York market on “Imus in the Morning.”

“We're trying to recognize what's happening in the environment and also define a unique brand of investing,” Isenberg said.

As of June 30, CSFBdirect claimed more than 1 million customer accounts worldwide representing $23 billion in assets. The online brokerage ranks 10th nationwide in terms of revenue.

The firm has opened CSFBdirect retail outposts in cities including Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York and Boca Raton, FL. Yet another way of drawing prospects is through online ads and referrals from customers.

Isenberg said CSFBdirect ran the risk of growing more slowly in the absence of the current campaign, which specifically was about customer acquisition.

“Our customers are very loyal,” Isenberg said. “We don't have a retention issue. We want to continue to attract new customers, of course, and make sure they're familiar with our name and promise.”

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