MANCHESTER, N.H. -- It's not everyday you turn 100 and St. Mary's Bank, the industry's first credit union, plans on celebrating well into 2009.
The credit union kicked off the festivities with a new television ad honoring its first century as a proud, long-standing member of both Manchester and New Hampshire. The new ad, which features faces and images of the city, premiered during the Jan. 27 broadcast of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" that was filmed in Manchester late last year.
"We're proud and excited to have our 100th anniversary ad air for the first time during a program featuring the great city of Manchester," said St. Mary's Bank President/CEO Ronald J. Rioux. "In preparing for this 100th birthday it renewed our interest in helping different population groups much like we did when we got our start in 1908." According to St. Mary's Bank Director of Marketing Elizabeth Stodolski, it has been incredible to see how over a year of planning is coming together.
"We're the first credit union in the country and we take that as an honor for St. Mary's to be symbolic of the birth of the industry in the U.S.," said Stodolski. "Early on we realized we needed this to be more than just a celebration of where we've been but also an opportunity to strongly position our credit union for the future."
To that end the credit union went all out and together with their local advertising agency developed a television campaign that revolves around the message of the credit union being a place where you belong.
"We licensed the popular song Up Where You Belong and changed the words to reinforce the idea that this is the place you literally belong as a member and figuratively we're here to meet your financial needs," said Stodolski. "To further drive the emotional message home we married that to local images of the places and faces of New Hampshire."
In addition to a 60-second, image-heavy television commercial, the credit union had two 30-second versions of the ad that focused on brand awareness and product messaging.
"It all came together perfectly with the writer's strike and the New Hampshire primaries. The Home Edition Extreme Makeover show that our commercial aired on coincidentally turned out to be the one that helped a local family in Manchester and was viewed by a large local audience," said Stodolski. "And luckily enough the strike ended in time for the Academy Awards to go on as planned because we also had premium placement during that as well. It was a wonderful media buying opportunity."
The 100th Anniversary campaign also includes print and radio components. To keep the excitement going year round Stodolski says several events will be planned throughout the duration of the campaign.
"This is just the start of a celebration that will extend into 2009 so it is important that we keep it fresh so the advertising can be rotated so it doesn't get stale," said Stodolski.
To draw on the power of word of mouth, St. Mary's is holding a promotion called "Bags to Riches" where one lucky member can win $100,000. Slated to kickoff at the end of March through April, the promotion is tied to a local popular radio station. Members enter their name to win and if their name is called on the radio and they call in they win $100 and are entered into the contest. All eligible contestants will then be invited to the St. Mary's headquarters and one will be randomly selected for a chance to pick out which of the 100 bags on display that contains $100,000. Even if the $100,000 bag isn't selected the individual is guaranteed to win $10,000.
The credit union is also inviting members to get involved and upload a photo and share their St. Mary's Bank story. It can be about whatever they want to talk about from their first home or celebrating their new American status. Stodolski says it is about showing members they are a valued part of the celebration. Plans are also underway for other events including member thank you days and fun outdoor events during the summer.
"It was important to us to show that as a credit union we exist solely to serve our members and we wanted them involved in the process so in our message we had to showcase real people and real members about town," said Stodolski. "In addition to honoring our history we want to give potential members reasons to give us a try and our celebration is designed to help us further develop and grow our membership while having lots of fun along the way.