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The Print Ads of DC's Wells Fargo-Wachovia Transition
Friday, 21 October 2011 12:27

In 2008, as the financial crisis enveloped the country's financial sector, some stronger banks seized the opportunity by buying weaker banks. So it was with Wells Fargo's acquisition of Wachovia for $15.1 billion. Three years later, Wells Fargo faces its own problem: how to transition hundreds of branches in 21 states and the District of Columbia from the Wachovia brand to Wells Fargo's.

To start, the bank grouped states into bunches and rolled them out a few at a time. Wells Fargo launched a blog dedicated to tracking the rollouts, as well as pages of web copy to answer frequently asked questions and address increased customer service needs. Wells Fargo is also blanketing TV and radio.

But two aspects of the marketing campaign in particular strike me:

  1. Wells Fargo is taking a risk by counting on its existing brand doing the legwork. When Capital One rebranded Chevy Chase bank last year they hired the Washington Redskins quarterback and a Washington Capitals star to help introduce Capitol One to DC. In contrast, Wells Fargo is hoping its brand will speak for itself. As Lori Kolbert, Wells Fargo's mid-Atlantic sales and marketing director, told the Washington Post last month, the bank intends to highlight its iconic red stagecoach, even sending a real-life replica traipsing through the streets of DC. Kolbert told the Post that the stagecoach "signals progress." The risk is that the good people of DC might not see it that way. After all, a stagecoach is old. Not necessarily the symbol of progress that Wells Fargo's marketing team thinks it is.
  2. The copy in Wells Fargo's DC print ad campaign is hit and miss. As a regular study of print ads on the DC metro, I'm struck by the inconsistency of the ad copy plastered throughout the city's downtown metro stops. Only a few seem to even make an effort to speak to DC, although again I'm not sure they've correctly judged the city's sense of itself. One ad reads, "Strong tradition. Rich history. We're in the right place.... Wachovia is now Wells Fargo in DC." Tradition. History. Are those the things we here in DC value about ourselves and our city? (I truly am curious - leave a comment if you have thoughts on the subject). Other ads strike me as lazy: "Hello DC. Wachovia is now Wells Fargo." Perhaps all they really need is a friendly introduction, but excuse me for expecting a bit more.
Take a look at the ads yourself below:

Cross-posted by Russell Max Simon at RMS Strategies.