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First Hawaiian said ‘yes’ yesterday and ‘yes’ today


A marketing and advertising guy at First Hawaiian Bank first came up with "the bank that says yes," back in 1969.

One echelon of bank leadership at the time gave it a resounding "no," but the marketing guy, named Walter Dods, and bank ad agency Milici Valenti got approval from the late John Bellinger, then the bank’s president, to move forward. With only a short break, the word "yes" has been the bank’s branding bedrock ever since.

Dods of course rose through the ranks to its top leadership posts and still serves on the board of directors.

"Yes, it was Walter Dods that came up with the ‘yes,’" said Nick Ng Pack, president of the agency now known as Milici Valenti Ng Pack Inc.

The concept has been played out in many ways, "the power of yes," "we say yes," "the answer is yes" and "yes we can," said Ng Pack and Brandt Farias, FHB executive vice president of marketing and communications. The new iteration is "Service*Solutions*Security, yes, we care."

"For any branding positioning statement to be effective, it needs to be credible, because the brand is your promise to the consumer," Farias said.

It is not often that a business and its advertising agency are together 40 years, especially when the basic theme of the marketing stays largely unchanged. Ad agencies’ longevity with a client is typically five years or less, said Ng Pack.

Milici Valenti, and now Milici Valenti Ng Pack, has been with the bank since 1969. The bank is the agency’s longest-in-duration client, and monetarily is one of the top two or three clients.

First Hawaiian’s independent research shows that the word "yes" is inextricably linked with the bank in consumers’ minds and has been for decades.

"We have a lot of equity in that (word) and market presence," Farias said. For a time before his tenure, which started in 1985, the marketing theme was changed to something different. Market research was done "and guess what still showed up as No. 1?" Farias said. The yes returned.

Bank employees were given a "yes" care package reflecting the new campaign containing a bag, a themed paperweight and a poster emblazoned with the new branding statement and each employee’s name.



Windward Mall is getting the word out about its sixth annual Festival of Giving, which helps nonprofit organizations and public and private schools raise funds and gets shoppers special deals.

The organizations sell $5 shopping passes and keep the proceeds, while the shoppers who buy them receive in-store discounts, gifts-with-purchase, food samples, door prizes and other benefits.

The two-day event is planned for the first weekend in November, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Nov. 6 and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 7. Interested organizations have until Sept. 20 to sign up by calling the mall at 235-1143 or by sending an e-mail to

The mall will also expand its Military Monday program beginning Oct. 4. It offers a 15 percent discount to military members, retirees and dependents as well as Defense Department employees on the first Monday of each month. Gallery Haiku, Kazu Couture, Ono Cheese Steak, Seeds N Things, Sindication, Yogen Fruz and others have joined the program, bringing the list of participating merchants to more than 50.

Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Advertiser. Reach her by e-mail at


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