Scottrade Increases Spending With First New Ads In Four Years

Saying it has tripled the number of active accounts and nearly doubled the number of branches, Scottrade yesterday broke the first of a dozen 15-second commercials, its first significant new campaign in four years.

And yes, that is founder and CEO Rodger Riney in a Scottrade-branded helicopter zipping over skylines in the new spots slated to air on network, cable and video-driven Internet sites.

According to the St. Louis, Mo.-based company, the so-called "Customers First" campaign from Gearon Hoffman, Boston, will replace the "Young Rodger" commercials, which had sought to convince customers that Scottrade delivered more than expected by positioning a younger Riney delivering more as a golf caddy or newspaper hawker.

"Over the past five years, Scottrade has experienced remarkable growth as investors have really responded to our customer-focused marketing messages," Riney said. "During that timeframe, the number of active accounts tripled and we have nearly doubled our branch network."

A Scottrade spokesperson said the investment company also would significantly increase its media spend in broadcast. For the first nine months of 2006, TNS Media Intelligence reports that Scottrade spent nearly $84 million on advertising in the media it tracks.

"The 'Customers First' campaign focuses on putting our customers' needs at the center of our business," Riney said. "We have always made online investing simple and convenient for our customers with $7 online trades, outstanding customer service and branch offices near where they live and work."

Direct competitor Charles Schwab--which for years featured the namesake financial services guru in ads--has said it plans to stick with its typographically driven "Talk to Chuck" campaign. Those ads now promote the knowledge and service orientation of the discount trading company without actually showing Schwab. Schwab has said it expects to "stay the course" with that campaign.

Scottrade's new campaign touts features including a newly overhauled Web site, customer service, 287 branch offices, per trade price of $7, no-fee IRAs and easy online account management.

While refusing to disclose budgets, Scottrade expects that its spots will be significantly more noticeable on major TV networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, CNBC, CNN and FOX News) because they will run either back-to-back or as bookends. The spots are also airing on cable and satellite networks and on numerous Internet sites that provide free premium video content, such as Yahoo and FOX News.

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