Bank of the West has kicked off an advertising campaign
to highlight the spirit of opportunity it says exemplifies life in
the 19 Western and Midwestern states where the 700-branch BNP
Paribas US subsidiary operates. Charles Davis discusses strategy
with the bank’s chief marketing officer, Andrew Rosen.


Photo of the iconic imagery of a Bank of the West adWhen Bank of the West set out to revamp is brand image and
launch a new marketing campaign, it came up with the dream
assignment for a couple of members of its new advertising agency:
rent a van, drive across the West and capture scenery, and

So they did – and what they
captured was equal parts breathtakingly beautiful and

“What we saw is a West that is
alive, vibrant, young and entrepreneurial,” says Bank of the West
chief marketing officer Andrew Rosen.

“‘Go West’ is the tag line that
emerged from that process and from a lot of research, because it
captures the essence of how we keep our commitment to customers
every day.

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“We are not talking about a
geography or a specific place when we say ‘Go West.’ It’s an
attitude. It’s a state of mind.”

Based in 19 Western states, Bank of
the West understands the optimistic, entrepreneurial nature of
those who have always looked to the West to find success and has a
heritage of supporting people who do so, he says.

It is not cowboys and stagecoaches,
either, Rosen says, and that, too, was intentional.

“We didn’t want to get too narrow
and focus on the Old West, any more than we wanted to just focus on
cities,” he says.

“It’s a spirit we are trying to
capture, not so much a place as a sense of the region. This is a
very different place.”

To kick off the new ‘Go West’
rebranding effort, Bank of the West is airing its first brand spot
in five years. ‘Right Now’ uses footage from the road trip with an
evocative call to arms for the start-up set: “There’s a spirit in
the West that drives people to do more,” with voiceover work by
Daniel Stern of the 1980s hit TV show The Wonder

The 30-second spot describes future
Western successes, including a Cabernet soda from Sonoma, a James
Beard Award-winning line chef from Denver and a champion-to-be
racehorse, groomed on a Nebraska farm.

The spot features pastoral
landscapes only – no people – so viewers may place themselves
within the Modern West’s environment of progress.

The tagline is: “Another reason to
go West.”

It debuted on 29 July on ESPN’s
Bank of the West Classic tennis tournament and is getting
heavy play on sports and news programming across the region.

The television spot is the first in
a series of broadcast, print and online ads that will appear
through the summer and fall.

The brand look and feel will also
be carried through to ads to promote specific product offers.

The spots are produced by Bank of
the West’s new agency of record, San Francisco-based Heat, which
also happen to be longtime customers of the bank. Heat’s clients
include Yelp, AOL, Ooma and Adobe.

“Our relationship with Heat is a
great reflection of the sort of business we really like doing,”
Rosen says.

“It emerged from a long-term
business banking relationship, so when we sit down to talk
advertising strategy with them we never have to explain what we’re
after. They know.”

Stern’s voice emerged from 20-plus
auditions, and hits just the right note with the 30- and
40-year-old set that comprises a key demographic for the bank.

“It is all about leaning forward
and being aggressive and captures the spirit of the entire region,”
Rosen says.

“That is a real challenge, just to
encapsulate the vast opportunity and vitality of the West, but it
is also the real strength of the campaign. Stern really gets that
across, and before people even know who he is, they recognize that
voice from somewhere.”

Rather subtly, the spot also
underscores what Bank of the West is not – from the East, or
associated with Wall Street. Rosen says that was not a goal, but
rather an outgrowth of the bank’s determination that “we will talk
about who we are, not who we are not”.

“We don’t bash anyone,” he

“We want to point out the
differences in a positive way by focusing on what we do well. It’s
the Western spirit, really, that optimism, industry,
entrepreneurial spirit.”

A second spot, soon to be launched,
will be more product-oriented. ‘Incredible’ focuses on a newly
launched $100 incentive for a checking account opening, and is
organised around the theme that, “$100 can be more than five 20s –
it can be incredible”. A new social media app is set to launch in
conjunction with the $100 incentive campaign, asking for
customer-generated ideas about the coolest thing to do with

The next step, Rosen says, will be
to start talking about Bank of the West’s customers.

“We are going to tell stories in
our ads, stories about the amazing spirit we find in our
customers,” he says.

“We will use TV, but also a lot of
social media to delve into the ways in which we work with our
customers to help them achieve their dreams.”

Bank of the West’s customer base
offers a deep reservoir of such stories, Rosen says.

“Our customers are unique. They
wanted a different banking experience and that’s why they chose us
in the first place. They really came to us by word-of-mouth,

“Now we need to take that word-of-mouth and bring it to life in
our marketing channels.”