"Boston is the center of New England, and our goal is to be New England's bank," Art House, Webster's director of public affairs, tells Marketing Daily. "This is a way to advance our awareness in a region where we're looking to expand."
Beginning in the first quarter of 2008, the bank will put its brand and logo on more than 150 ATMs in Walgreen's stores in the three states. In addition, the bank will promote the machines with window signage in the stores, and will be allowed to advertise on the screens of the ATMs.
No other banks had previously branded the ATMs in those regional Walgreen's markets. Walgreen's does have deals with different banks in other regions of the country.
The move is the first major push into the Boston area for the regional bank, which is based in Farmington, Conn. The company has done traditional television and print advertising, although none of it has reached the Boston market.
With more than 200 banking institutions, the Boston market is rather crowded and is dominated by large and mid-market players such as Bank of America, Citizen's Bank and Sovereign Bank, says Craig Douglas, a reporter covering banking for the Boston Business Journal. While smaller players like Webster can sell their expertise in understanding the local mindset, they may have difficulty competing against the larger institutions' array of products.
"They've got their work cut out for them," Douglas says of Webster. "It's a competitive market in terms of presence, cost and products."
Nevertheless, Webster executives are undeterred in their efforts to expand in the market. "The Northeast is heavily banked, but it's our backyard, and we think it has great potential," House says.
Webster Bank currently has nearly 180 brick-and-mortar offices and nearly 340 ATMs in its three-state territory of Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.