INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana credit unions cashed in on Super Bowl hype savoring a big payoff in what one marketing executive here called "phenomenal ratings" for pre-game TV and radio ads as well as Internet tie-ins.
"It's been simply great for us since we signed up three years ago as a sponsor of the Indianapolis Colts for local TV ads plus weekly radio spots," declared C. Andrew Mattingly, senior vice president, strategy and marketing at the $980 million Forum CU of Indianapolis. All season, the CU's branding message received regular plugs on a weekly sports online program and radio show aptly called "Fan Forum" in which Colts fans submitted questions to media broadcasters. Apart from that, the Forum name was emblazoned on TV screens in the Colts stadium, the RCA Dome.
As for TV ads, Forum, as part of its Colts contract, bought 30-second pre-game spots and though it had the opportunity, "the $80,000 price for an ad during the game was way too high for us."
Meanwhile, MidWest America Federal Credit Union in Fort Wayne said it was paying $8,000 for a local 30-second TV spot during the Super Bowl game after already enjoying high ratings from two earlier spots on the AFC championship game broadcast in its northern Indiana market.
Indeed, many northern Indiana CUs like MidWest found themselves in a severe loyalty dilemma in having to pick between plugging the Colts or the rival Chicago Bears.
"We have three of our branches in Illinois and so we know where their support lies," said Michael Woehnker, vice president of marketing at MidWest, which is located two hours from Chicago. "We allowed any of our employees to wear their choice--Colts or Bears on Friday, Feb. 2."
As part of its Colts deal, MidWest offered Colts giveaway items and kids' contests in its Indiana branches plus sponsored bus trips to Colt games during the season. MidWest did air two spots on the local CBS affiliate during the championship games the prior week. The cost for those pre-game spots was in the $3,500 range.
Considering the extended season for the Colts, "we did very well in our marketing," said Woehnker.
Across Indiana, many other CUs joined in Super Bowl promotions ranging from in-lobby tailgate parties to T-shirt giveaways.
"We're so excited about the Colts going to the Super Bowl, we teamed up with a local radio station to have a tailgate party in our main office complete with pizza, chips, soft drinks and cookies," said Diana TenBrook, vice president-marketing at Solidarity Community Federal Credit Union in Kokomo, Ind.
The CU said it would be donating to the American Red Cross $1 for every party attendee "wearing Colts blue." In addition, Solidarity would also give away blue and white mini footballs and blue practice jerseys.
During the playoffs, employees at Marion School Employees Federal Credit Union wore Colts gear and planned to dress up again Feb. 2, said Michelle Peterson, marketing manager.
During Super Bowl week, Northern Indiana Federal Credit Union in Merrillville said it set up an impromptu lobby poll with goalposts and footballs inviting members to vote either for the Bears or the Colts. "The Bears are in the lead," said Lisa C. Kosiara, vice president of marketing.
And in Chicago, where the cost of TV ads can be prohibitive, a sampling of CUs said they had no plans for promotions even though as one staffer for the Illinois Credit Union League put it, "it is surprising since we've waited 20 years for the Bears."
Meanwhile, in Seattle where a year ago 20 Washington State and Alaska CUs paid $70,000 for a co-op TV Super Bowl ad during the Seahawks/Steelers game, this year the group decided to forgo a repeat and instead is considering the Academy Awards show Feb. 25 for a TV spot as part of a retooled ad campaign. --firstname.lastname@example.org