LAS VEGAS -- Credit unions expecting to successfully penetrate the youth market ought to start using "hip hop" icons, music and fashion in their ads, on the Internet and on iPods, according to a Los Angeles ad executive. "It doesn't mean you have to go for 'Snoop Dogg' but you have to appeal to their tastes," explained James Flores, head of Subcat Marketing, a Brea agency specializing in production of diversity ads, brochures and newsletters aimed at young adults. Snoop Dogg is a popular rapper.
The ethnic mix is frequently quite diverse with cross-over appeal among black, white, Hispanic and Asian segments and so CUs need to position their advertising to reach the many subcultures, suggested Flores.
Addressing a breakout session on the California/Youth Involvement Network at the annual convention of the California/Nevada Credit Union Leagues, Flores urged CU executives pay closer attention to the broad "hip hop culture" and not be afraid of adopting creative styles. Using video clips, he showed examples of several large banks, Visa and other vendors successfully using the hip hop lingo complete with loud music, cartoon creatures and zany drawings in their ads to demonstrate their identification with youth. Subcat lists several California CUs as clients for ad creation and marketing materials with a stress on making sure financial institutions "speak to kids and teens on their terms." "Subcat understands and celebrates the credit union movement," said the firm adding, "by raising awareness of the many social, political, educational benefits credit unions offer, Subcat can help you develop your teen members into lifelong credit union supporters." In his remarks, Flores also touched on the various Internet Web sites and chat forums used by young people with CUs and banks starting to enter this field. One of Subcat's clients, Pacific Service Credit Union of Walnut Creek, Calif. is considering advertising on the popular Myspace.com Web site later this year and, in effect, would be joining an elite corps of advertisers. At the league session here, it was noted that Canadian-based Motor City Community Credit Union of Windsor, Ontario began advertising on Myspace last July and is reporting positive results. Claiming it is the first CU to have a Myspace profile, Motor City's own Web site discusses the "negative headlines" and reservations it had about signing on, but so far the marketing venture has proved successful in drawing new business from young people. The Canadian CU's own marketing director said Myspace is a way for CUs like his "to connect" with the new generation "and truly understand their financial needs." On that score, the California/Nevada Youth Involvement Network, which also met during the league convention, said it also is urging new emphasis on financial literacy as part of its 2007 planning and also on pushing CUs toward the "subcultures" in line with Flores' remarks on diversity. Catherine Arra, staff liaison for YIN, said CUs everywhere understand the problem of an aging membership and are marshalling resources toward the youth, adding, CUs in their advertising lack "the glamour of a GAP store but we can tailor our ads to young people in creative ways." The chairman of YIN, Marissa E. Lott, who also is head of marketing for Farmers Insurance Group Federal Credit Union of Los Angeles, said CUs have long focused on generic ads to reach young people "like say one on loans or on checking." But YIN intends now to promote more "cutting edge" diversity ads directed at minority groups like Hispanics and Asians.
Lott said the network's new Web site is being refurbished and a blog added to allow more exchange of ideas. Also included is a new special "members only" section, she said.