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Ads Don't Cure What Ails Your Investments

JPMorgan Chase (JPM) is in similar straits. It's the sixth largest advertiser, according to AdAge, with 2011 spend of $2.35 billion. It has been dramatically increasing spending for its "Chase" branch banking and credit card brand, based in Chicago.

But with its New York management increasingly under fire over the "London Whale" trade, how effective is that ad spending? Again, the shares have done all right this year, up 14.24%, but remember the S&P is up 15.72%. JPMorgan Chase trails the averages.

As Phoenix Marketing noted in a press release last year, trust is the key value pushed by bank advertising, and Chase is by far the largest bank brand, in terms of total ad spend, as it has opened new branches aggressively.

But while ads have grown its deposits quickly, they haven't grown its lending as quickly. Business Week reports that, at the end of last year, JP Morgan Chase had only 61% of its deposits out in the form of loans, the lowest figure among the big banks.

Citigroup (C), by contrast, had 70% of its deposits out on loan, and that stock is up 27.14% in 2013. Remember that, for a bank, a deposit is really a liability. It's loans that are the assets.

The point is there's a myth on Wall Street that Madison Avenue can save it from the consequences of its mistakes, that with enough advertising all will be made better.

It's just not true.

At the time of publication, the author had no investments in companies mentioned here.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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