E-Trade Group Inc. today will unveil an advertising campaign designed to position the company as the preferred brand in the young but fast-growing world of online financial services. The Palo Alto-based company declined to break out costs of the new campaign, but E-Trade Marketing Vice President Michael Sievert said the company's advertising and marketing budget for the current fiscal year will total $150 million.
E-Trade's past TV commercials, which ran mainly on financial news programs, promoted the use of the online trading category. New commercials, to run on such mainstream programs as "ER," "Ally McBeal" and "The X-Files," will pitch E-Trade to a broad range of consumers, most of whom have yet to move their personal finances online.
"Just a few months ago, this was an emerging category," Sievert said. "Now our advertising has to be less about selling the category than establishing our brand."
Marketing industry observers say E-Trade's advertising shift mirrors a trend throughout the world of online commerce.
"What's occurring over a very short period of time is that companies that were promoting a generic category are now moving to build and hone their brands," said Carol A. Scott, a UCLA marketing professor. "E-Trade wants to establish itself as the Amazon.com of the online trading business."
E-Trade's old commercial tag line, "Someday, we'll all trade this way," is giving way to "It's time for E-Trade." The switch, which will be evident in new print and TV advertising, is occurring, Sievert said, "because the time is right to define E-Trade as the No. 1 brand in consumers' minds."
E-Trade is the third-largest online trading firm, according to Credit Suisse/First Boston, behind market leader Schwab and Waterhouse. Average daily online trading volumes grew by 34% during the fourth quarter of 1998 to 340,000 per day, according to Credit Suisse/First Boston, and 13.7% of all equity trades now take place over the Internet.
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