Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Image-Conscious Funds Boost Advertising

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Image-Conscious Funds Boost Advertising

Article excerpt

BOSTON -- Folks at Janus Capital Corp. in Denver last Monday morning were reviewing the Super Bowl too, though from their own angle.

Janus said it paid more than $1 million for a 30-second advertising spot during Super Bowl XXXI when the Green Bay Packers defeated the New England Patriots.

Will that prove to be a good investment? It's too early to estimate how many investors will buy Janus' mutual funds as a result of the Super Bowl ad, said Robin Beery, Janus' director of retail marketing. "We do know call volumes (from prospective investors) were up," she said. Janus is believed to have paid more for one advertisement than any U.S. fund company in history, according to Competitrack Inc., a firm that tracks advertising. "We're working on building our brand name, and the Super Bowl is a good way to reach the masses," said Beery. Janus isn't alone. Mutual fund companies increased their total advertising spending by 80 percent in 1996 to about $360 million, said Robert Moss, president of New York-based Competitrack. Television spending jumped four times to about $140 million, he said. Some analysts say the avalanche of ads, coinciding with a record flow of new money into mutual funds, is yet another sign of stock market excess. "Fund companies are merchandising themselves like Gillette merchandises its razor blades," said Stephen Janachowski, an investment adviser in San Francisco. "At some point, we'll have a down market and it will get ugly." Many of today's mutual fund buyers are first-time investors who are ignoring the market's risks, Janachowski said. Like Janus, fund companies Fidelity Investments, Scudder, Stevens & Clark Inc. and American Century Investments are in the middle of national TV campaigns. Fidelity started a television ad campaign Thursday night featuring daily news events. The ads will be created each afternoon and broadcast the same day. They include a voice-over that says: "To most people, this is news. To Fidelity, it's history." The Scudder ads take a more laid-back approach to sell the company's funds. The ads feature Scudder telephone representatives offering assistance to investors, ranging from the novice to the experienced, on how to build a portfolio. …

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