Magazine article American Banker

Canadian Imperial Bank Woos US with 'Unbanklike' Ads

Magazine article American Banker

Canadian Imperial Bank Woos US with 'Unbanklike' Ads

Article excerpt

NEW YORK -- Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, the Toronto-based international bank, is wooing American corporate clients to the south with an "unbanklike" advertising message.

Appealing to the financial needs of businesses located in the 11 U.S. cities where it maintains branches, the $7 billion-asset -- in U.S. dollars -- banks, has kicked off the second phase of a year-old advertising campaign that challenges executives to "Put Us to the Test."

Now, Canadian Imperial has employed the New York public relations firm of Needham Porter Novelli to promote its invitation to corporations to "Test Drive a 1985 Canadian Imperial Banker."

Promising a smooth ride with someone who "can handle the curves," the ad features a smiling banker with both hands glued to a wheel-like briefcase handle. The Canadian Imperial banker, it proclaims, knows "twists and turns" that often mark the road to financing needs and merger and acquisition planning.

The ads, which are appearing in major U.S. publications like The Wall Street Journal, Barron's Time, U.S. News and World Report, and Business Week, also ask companies who rack up business profits of $50 million or more to consider "When Is Your Banker Yours?"

A picture of a banker's calendar -- crowded with luncheon appointments and golf outings -- tells customers that if they call Canadian Imperial, "you won't find yourself squeezed into the hectic schedule of someone with protocol meetings to attend."

Another ad attempts to instruct potential borrowers in "How to Be a Bank Examiner." Borrowing tips from the "Official Preppy Handbooks," it examines the body parts of a Canadian Imperial account officer -- most of whom "have a mimimum of five years experience" -- and points to "a nose that can sniff out the best deal" and "reflects that can jump at unexpected oportunities."

Relationship with US Client Network

The $2.3 million that Canadian Imperial has earmarked for the campaign is, according to Needham senior associate Steven Gaynes, designed to "sell the whole concept of the relationship" the bank has with its extensive U.S. client network. Those clients include executives in the utilities, communications, real estate, and energy industries.

In order to reinforce this idea, explains Mr. Gaynes, the bank has gone out of its way to get American employees. Canadian Imperial claims that 70% of its U.S. corporate banking team is composed of American bankers.

Canadian Imperial is one of the 10 largest banks in North America and has $53 billion in assets worldwide. The bank has branches in Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Frankfurt, Paris, and Milan, and owns a London subsidiary, CIBC Ltd. …

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