- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 12, 2005

The newest banking player in the D.C. market is hoping to cash in with a campaign to differentiate itself from its competitors.

PNC Bank, which bought Riggs National Corp. last month, is touting no automated teller machine fees, a vibrant orange and deep blue logo, and a brand-building theme “Easy as PNC.”

The Pittsburgh financial group, which is spending $30 million on its campaign, won’t disclose the amount of money spent in the D.C. area for competitive reasons. But officials say more is being spent here than in any other market.

“We’re coming into the D.C. market as a major player,” said Matt Carter, PNC’s senior vice president of strategic marketing and brand management. “We have to build up our brand.”

PNC began running ads in April to introduce itself to the District before the Riggs acquisition on May 13 was complete. PNC has converted 51 Riggs branches in the area and opened one new location in Ballston.

The campaign, which includes TV, radio and print ads created by Doner in Detroit, started here last Monday.

The TV ads feature customers stepping up to a blue microphone and declaring what they want in a bank, including the elimination of ATM fees. The bank will refund ATM fees to customers with select PNC accounts who incur surcharges anywhere in the United States regardless of the bank or the provider.

“This campaign is designed to carve out a differentiating position for PNC,” Mr. Carter said.

The bank also has started Spanish-language commercials to attract more Hispanic customers. Those ads are running in the District and in other markets with the highest Hispanic concentrations, such as New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania.

The Big Show

BET, owned by Viacom Inc., has begun an aggressive marketing campaign to get out the word about its signature awards show, “BET Awards ‘05.” The show, which will star power couple Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith as hosts, airs June 28.

The campaign, valued at $2.5 million, includes radio ads and promotions, TV spots on BET and other Viacom-owned networks, print, outdoor and transit advertising, and in-theater promotions at Magic Johnson Theatres.

Last year’s marketing effort, valued at about $2 million, helped draw 5.6 million viewers to the annual show, making it BET’s No. 1 telecast in its history.

New wins

• Williams Whittle Associates of Alexandria has been named agency of record for the Washington Area Honda Dealers, a consortium of 19 dealers in the area. A new ad campaign will debut today.

• The Borenstein Group, based in Fairfax, has been hired by Iatrogen, a bioinformatics firm in Herndon, and Vienna, Va.’s Lucidiom Inc., which provides networked digital photo centers and created the Automated Photo Machine, a self-service digital photo-finishing station.

• SheaHedges Group of McLean has added IGov to its client list. McLean-based IGov provides information-technology solutions to government agencies.

• Donna De Marco can be reached at 202/636-4884. Advertising & marketing runs every other Monday.

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