Just who and what is Synovus?
That’s the question the regional bankholding company is trying to answer for the public as it expands an advertising campaign launched earlier this year.
A 60-second TV commercial, dubbed “Here’s to Here,” began airing in the spring in the Atlanta and Birmingham, Ala., markets, showing how Synovus connects in a small-town way with communities in which it does business, while offering the services of a larger financial institution.
Now comes another 60-second ad, called “Rebel Teen,” which depicts a young guy making a thought-out decision to seemingly buck the norm by remaining in his hometown to raise a family and start a business.
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The first ad aired during The Masters golf tournament in April and has been spotted on various statewide outlets, such as Georgia Public Television programming. The “Rebel Teen” recently aired during an Atlanta Braves telecast.
Synovus, parent of Columbus Bank and Trust, said Friday it is rolling out “The Bank of Here” marketing effort in 16 more Southeastern markets in which it operates. They include the Georgia cities of Columbus, Augusta, Brunswick and Statesboro, as well as the Florida cities of Tampa, Fernandina Beach and Pensacola. Nashville, Tenn., and the South Carolina cities of Columbia and Charleston also are included.
“What’s most important for Synovus right now is defining who we are,” Synovus marketing director Loree Link said in a statement. “Up until now, we’ve done that through our customers and word of mouth. This campaign helps us amplify that message by bringing to life what we actually stand for as a brand — real, human connections made through our strong local ties.”
Synovus operates 28 banks across the Southeast, all with local brands, with total assets of about $26 billion. Its campaign comes with the firm continuing to rebound from the dire financial troubles it experienced during the Great Recession as revenues plummeted and loan losses soared.
The bank appears to have turned the corner over the last 18 months, posting profits again and repaying nearly $1 billion owed to the federal Troubled Asset Relief Program. Its five-state workforce has been reduced from 7,385 employees in 2007, just prior to the recession, to 4,696 staffers at the end of 2013. That’s down from 4,963 in December 2012.
The bank, which is looking to ramp up financial growth in the coming quarters, is now investing in the ad campaign designed to connect with customers on a personal level. Part of that is letting them know the local bank brands they have long been familiar with are part of the larger Synovus network.
Kessel Stelling, Synovus chairman and chief executive officer, on Friday said making sure the public knows the difference between the bank and its national competitors is a key part of his firm’s growth strategy.
“By emphasizing the strength of the local ties we’ve built through our 28 community bank brands and the full capabilities of Synovus, customers and prospects will see new ways we can meet their needs and help them succeed,” he said in a statement. “The more unique the banking needs, the more our team can offer because we know our communities and our regions inside and out.”
Synovus did not say how much it is spending on the new ad campaign. A recent company filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission shows “advertising expense” through the first six months of this year totaled nearly $8.8 million. That’s up from about $3.4 million through the first half of 2013.
Company spokesman Greg Hudgison said Friday he did not have specific programs during which the bank’s commercials are scheduled to air. He said viewers should see them on various network and cable programming. The campaign also includes print and digital (online) advertising.
The new commercial, “Rebel Teen,” has a similar tone to the “Here’s to Here” ad, taking place mostly in what appears to be a smaller community with anywhere USA streetscapes and neighborhoods.
With a piano playing softly in the background, the ad features a teen clad in a leather hoodie, jeans and tennis shoes, hands in his pockets, walking in various areas of a town and contemplating the life before him.
“You see this place? The old downtown, the mall, the riverside? The first chance I get I swear I’m going to stay right where I am,” the youngster says as he overlooks the sun setting on a downtown very similar to Columbus.
He then begins walking through an underpass, stopping by at a cafeteria and in a neighborhood park before taking a moment in a church with old wooden pews.
“Here’s where I meet the girl of my dreams. Here’s where we break up. Here’s where we make up again. Get married,” he says.
The teen proceeds to what appears to be an old furniture manufacturing shop, then a building being renovated that looks like the historic Mott House on the TSYS campus, and an empty stadium.
“Here’s where I learn my trade. Take over the business. Expand,” he says. “Here’s where we open a center to help kids like my little sister. Here’s where I watch my son grow up. Here’s where I hear the cheers of a thousand neighbors chanting his name.”
The commercial wraps up with the young man walking near railroad tracks, a determined look now on his face and the spoken words: “Here’s where one day he looks me in the eye and says, dad, you can’t tell me what to do.”
It closes with another shot of the teen overlooking the downtown sunset.
“I’m going to make something of myself ... right here,” he concludes.
The TV commercials, which Synovus called “highly emotional,” were developed by the Atlanta ad firm, Fitzgerald+CO. The overall campaign, the bank said, was launched following research with 6,000 existing and potential customers.