The First American Bank of Maryland provided an incorrect figure for the report on quarterly deposits of area banks in last week's Washington Business. The bank's deposits on March 31, 1982, totaled $274,856,000.
Armed with a major new advertising campaign, First American Bank of Virginia is playing for higher stakes in the banking game.
In fact, President Milton L. Drewer Jr. and three of his corporate officers are letting it be known through full-page ads in The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal that "We're looking the big boys right in the eye."
The ad, which shows Drewer and the others pictured on Wall Street, is part of the first full-blown marketing effort by First American to persuade major companies in its market that it can provide the banking services they need.
First American officials say the point is that it isn't necessary for those businesses to go to the big money-center banks in New York for those services when they can get them in their own back yards.
In the short time that the ad has been running, "We have been getting excellent reaction," Drewer says.
But is it "truth in advertising?" asked The Wall Street Journal, referring to the "trip that wasn't" actually made to Wall Street by the First American officers.
"We were not trying to fool anybody," Drewer insisted. "We weren't claiming to have gone to New York City. I think people can tell it was superimposed."
The picture is the product of a marketing idea developed by a local advertising agency, which trimmed the executives' photos and superimposed them on a photo of New York's financial district.
First American's recognition factor is much greater as a result of the ad, Drewer said, dismissing the jab at the advertising technique. Besides, he added philosophically, "Any ink is good ink."
With a $250,000 increase in its advertising budget this year, First American is prepared to initiate a new campaign, which it plans to extend to regional editions of national news magazines.
Assets of more than $1 billion and 45 locations make First American the biggest Northern Virginia-based bank. But four years after its formation from a merger of three smaller banks, it didn't have "a great deal of recognition," Drewer recently concluded.
Moreover, surveys conducted for First American earlier in the year found that a large segment of the market continues to view First American as one of the three small banks that were merged in 1968.
Until now, First American has had considerable success in building a customer base of businesses generating sales of $5 million or less. "We are falling short when it comes to businesses with $5 million or more," Drewer lamented.
If First American is to attract customers in that second-tier market, it had to launch an aggressive advertising and marketing campaign, Drewer concluded.
Ironically, while First American officials are pictured on Wall Street, the competition for corporate clients in its primary market is made more difficult by the presence of representatives from major New York banks.
Major Maryland banks based in Baltimore also have raised the level of competition for corporate clients in metropolitan Washington by opening loan production offices in the District.
"We know the money-center banks were here and felt we could do a better job than they could sending people down here by plane and train every week," said Drewer.
Although First American is likely to remain a regional bank, chances are it will move to expand its market before long through mergers and acquisitions.
Drewer is optimistic that owners of the new parent company, FGB Holding Corp., will approve an expansion plan that will extend First American's market to all areas of Virginia.
FGB recently acquired Financial General Bankshares Inc.--previous owner of First American--in a tender offer.
"I see a lot of pluses coming out of this," Drewer said of the acquisition, which also gives FGB control of the First American Banks in the District and Silver Spring and eight banks in three other states.
While the start of expansion may be delayed for a while, First American of Virginia is on schedule in attaining other growth goals, Drewer said.
Bank officials believe 10 percent growth rates in earnings, deposits and assets are realistic goals for this year. At the same time, they expect an increase of 15 percent in commercial and consumer loans.
Return on assets increased 17 percent to 1.39 percent last year, and "that's pretty hard to duplicate," Drewer concedes. Nonetheless, he is confident earnings will increase this year.
Meanwhile, with the current ad campaign "paying off," Drewer says, the picture on Wall Street will be worth millions to First American.