Merrill Lynch is launching a new multi-year online advertising campaign focused on clients' life priorities, aiming to bolster its image with current and prospective clients as a goals-based wealth management firm.

The new campaign, dubbed "Life. It's a Totally Different Beast," will appear on lifestyle websites as well as traditional financial news websites, such as Forbes and The Wall Street Journal, says John Hutto, head of marketing at the wirehouse. One image shows a woman performing yoga, with the line: "Health. It's a Totally Different Beast." Another image shows an aging man decked out in racing gear and on bicycle.

All the images have an additional tagline: "We can help you prepare for what's ahead."

"We are going to lead and appear in places where they are looking for information or help. So… ultimately we'll bring them to Merrill Lynch's website, [where] they can see the tools and resources [we have]," he says.

The firm's advertising efforts also align with Merrill Clear, an iPad app designed to facilitate advisors' conversations with clients around seven life priorities, such as health and travel. Advisors can use Merrill Clear to quiz clients about their goals, give them a sense of how they could achieve them and even call up relevant research information on the spot.

"The lead question is no longer 'How's your money?' It's 'How's your life?'" David Tyrie, head of retirement and personal wealth solutions at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, said at a Merrill Clear event in May.

Merrill's homepage also has been updated to reflect the new campaign because its target clientele now spends more time on the web than watching television, Hutto says. Traditionally, the firm's efforts relied more on traditional mediums. The campaign, which will last several years, is expected to ratchet up as many as 750 million views this year.
"We believe these are concepts that resonate directly with what they think and what's on their minds," Hutto says.

"One of the things our advisors have told us they like is that it acknowledges what we are doing at Merrill Lynch is different than what we did in the past," Hutto says.

A Merrill spokeswoman declined to comment on how much the firm is spending on the new campaign.

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