Stocks, insurance ads shove cars, beer out of World Series


NEW YORK -- Stocks, bonds, insurance and mutual funds are muscling in on beer and cars between innings of this year's World Series.

Broker Merrill Lynch & Co., mutual fund provider Fidelity Investment, life insurer SunAmerica Inc. and other financial companies have boosted television ad spending by half this year, much of it on sporting events such as this year's New York vs. Atlanta series.

"Baseball is very American and apple pie," said Michael Sievert, vice president of marketing at E*Trade Group Inc., the second-biggest Internet broker. "People are taking control of investing themselves and that's very American, too."

E*Trade, which spent $302 million on advertising and marketing in the year that ended last month, is a repeat World Series sponsor after its ads in 1998 proved a hit.

Its campaign this year includes a spot with a young man massaging an older lady's bunions while she lies in bed. The punch line: "Be your own sugar daddy," a reference to the do-it-yourself stock trading Internet brokers like E*Trade provide.

In other ads on the 1999 World Series, magicians Penn and Teller pitch Fidelity's online trading service, Yankees manager Joe Torre plays stickball for life insurer American General Corp. and Merrill Lynch reassures a middle-aged client the biggest U.S. broker won't forget him now that it offers Internet trading.

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