Provident targets D.C. market


Provident Bankshares Corp., which has been aggressively expanding in the Washington suburbs, has launched a $500,000 television campaign aimed largely at attracting new customers in that area.

The Baltimore banking company said the TV push - part of a $2.2 million media campaign - is its first in nine years.

Provident, with $5.3 billion in assets and 98 branches, spent $1.5 million on media advertising last year.

This year it will direct 90 percent of its television ads at the Washington metropolitan area, said Lillian S. Kilroy, managing director of marketing at Provident, the state's second-largest independent banking company, Kilroy said.

The company already has begun delivering the message with radio and print ads in Baltimore and Washington.

The commercials promote the bank's checking accounts and home-equity line of credit.

One of the goals is to improve Provident's name recognition in a market that is brimming with banks, including Bank of America, SunTrust Banks, First Union and Chevy Chase Bank.

"I think the campaign is very important to us from an expansion standpoint," said Kilroy.

But increasing its market share won't be easy, said Jon Holtaway, a principal at Danielson Associates Inc., a Rockville bank consulting firm. "I would be a little hesitant that ... [the] campaign is going to make a serious dent," he said. "They are up against not only the big players ... , but we also have Chevy Chase, which is really the premier retail franchise in our neck of the woods."

Provident broke into the Washington market in 1997, when it acquired First Citizens Financial Corp. of Gaithersburg, converting its 14 branches to the Provident name. Since then, Provident has added 18 branches with another five planned this year in the Washington metropolitan market.

Provident hired Trahan, Burden & Charles, an advertising and public relations firm in Baltimore, to create the campaign, titled, "Possibilities."

The 15-second television spots show moving puzzle pieces putting themselves together in the shape of a home and a desk where a person might sit to figure out his finances.

The puzzle pieces represent the complexity of personal finance, and that Provident can help pull the pieces together.

Provident plans to expand the campaign, which airs through June, and later in the fall, to include a number of other consumer and small-business products.

"Our position is based on the concept of the right-sized bank," Kilroy said. "We are small enough to know you, but large enough to give you the full range of services."

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