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Rating:Piper Feels Lucky in Attracting Kids Not Rated 4.0 Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Thursday, January 16, 2003

Piper Feels Lucky in Attracting Kids

by: Sean Hanna, Editor in Chief

While many 529 providers are trying to reach the grandparent generation, U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray is seeking to hook 'em young. The broker-dealer is launching a new education campaign to support its college savings plan built around a cartoon character named "Lucky the Goose."

A Piper Jaffrey advisor created the cartoon character, according to the firm. While the character may appeal to some children and was undoubtedly inexpensive to license, it lacks the drawing power of an existing character that children would be familiar with.

The strategy also stands in stark contrast to the approach taken by other firms. In many cases, the target of college savings campaigns have been the grandparent generation as that cohort typically has the most accumulated wealth. Children, obviously, have few assets of their own.

As part of the campaign, the firm built a special barnyard-themed Web site (www.lucky529.com) featuring games and cartoons and even an online story designed for children. A story on the site, for example, tells how Lucky was able to buy the farm he lived on after successfully planting pumpkin seeds to grow new pumpkins and increase his wealth. Lucky hit on the idea after asking the farmer for a raise and being turned down.

Piper Jaffrey plans to have its brokers use the program when they visit schools and talk to kids about saving and investing on April 10 -- the day the American Bankers Association has designated as "Teach Children to Save Day."

"Children today are surrounded with 'spend now, save later' messages from many sources," explained Andrew Duff, president and chief executive officer of Piper Jaffray. "The Lucky site is one of several financial education programs we've developed to help children begin to understand and appreciate the importance of saving, the power of compound interest and the history of currency."

Piper Jaffrey is not the first fund firm to target children, nor is it the first firm to use a cartoon character. FleetBoston's Stein Roe unit offers a young investors fund aimed at child investors. On the cartoon front, Kelmoore Funds created a Kaptain Kelmoore figure to attract investors.  

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