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Thursday, February 17, 2011

'Are You Scared of Hank Herrmann?'

Reported by Armie Margaret Lee

Are you scared of Hank Herrmann? "Yes," an Ivy Funds analyst tells the interviewer. "I think everybody is."

That confession was captured in a documentary video that gives viewers a glimpse into Ivy Funds' [see profile] morning meetings and the amount of preparation that portfolio managers and analysts need to handle questions that the Waddell & Reed Financial CEO would throw their way at their daily 8:45 a.m. meeting.

"In the early '80s, when we were on the cover of Institutional Investor magazine, the caption on the bottom was 'the piranha tank,'" Herrmann tells the camera. "I was flattered by that article."

The videos, which also show Ivy's investment pros doing on-site research overseas, are part of a new branding initiative that Ivy Funds is launching. This is the firm's first comprehensive campaign, say officials. In addition to documentary videos, the campaign, which carries the tagline "The World Covered," includes print ads with quick response codes, online ads and TV commercials that will air on CNBC. To generate buzz, Ivy will also use social media platforms such as Facebook and YouTube.

The campaign will kick off with ads in Barron's and a brochure in InvestmentNews the week of February 21.

Ivy Funds worked with SwanDog on the campaign.

Herrmann, Ivy Funds Distributor president and CEO Tom Butch and marketing director Lori Dorsey were in New York City Thursday morning to unveil the Overland Park, Kansas City-based mutual fund firm's new campaign. Around 10 reporters attended the media briefing at the Renaissance Hotel in Manhattan's Times Square.

Lori Dorsey, director of marketing, and Tom Butch, president and CEO of Ivy Funds Distributor at the media briefing Thursday morning.
Ivy officials declined to say how much they spent on the campaign.

"The expenditure is reasonable to the effort," Butch told reporters.

How will Ivy gauge the success of the campaign? On a weekly basis, Ivy will measure against historical averages metrics such as Web traffic, sales desk call volume, request for information and new advisor first ticket, Butch said.

In an interview with The MFWire.com, Butch pointed to research showing that many advisors were not entirely familiar with Ivy Funds. "While Ivy has grown over the course of its life as part of Waddell & Reed, familiarity with the brand as expressed in various research we look at still looks like that of a relatively new fund company," Butch said. "It's not terribly surprising since Ivy's only been part of Waddell & Reed for seven years."

As for those who know Ivy, "while there are no negative attributes that are ascribed to us, there's no singular perception of who we are as an investment manager."

With its branding campaign, Ivy hopes to highlight the "uniqueness of our investment process and the global perspective that we bring to bear," Butch explained.  

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