Magazine article American Banker

MBNA Gets Set to Unveil First National Ad Drive

Magazine article American Banker

MBNA Gets Set to Unveil First National Ad Drive

Article excerpt

In a departure from its longstanding practice of playing down its own brand in favor of affinity partnerships, MBNA Corp. will launch its first national advertising campaign next month.

The Wilmington, Del., monoline card issuer will use television, national newspapers, radio, the Internet, and billboards. It would not disclose its advertising budget. Newspaper reports said a 30-second spot to run Feb. 6 during the Super Bowl would cost around $2.4 million.

Analysts called the campaign a much-needed step to stave off potential loss of market share in a hypercompetitive market.

In an interview Thursday, Mark Levitt, MBNA's senior executive vice president of brand development, said he hopes to gain new customers, cross-sell additional MBNA products to existing customers, and encourage them to use their cards.

"I think the more people that are aware of us, the more opportunities there are," Mr. Levitt said. "If they don't take up another card, this will start to get them to use their MBNA card."

The TV spots will focus on credit cards. The ads in print and other media will also push MBNA-issued American Express cards, along with other loan and deposit products.

Mr. Levitt insisted that MBNA was not imitating other issuers that have broken into national advertising in recent years. These include the former Bank One Corp., which started its first national ad campaign, a $25 million effort, during the 2002 World Series, and Capital One Financial Corp. (J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. acquired Bank One, of Chicago, last year.)

"We are not following in anybody's footsteps," Mr. Levitt said. "This was a long time in the works behind the scenes." MBNA hired the Helm Agency of New York around 18 months ago to help it develop a long-term branding strategy, he said.

The campaign will begin with the Super Bowl commercial, which will feature some of MBNA's more than 5,100 affinity card partners. …

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