OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Consumers here have got a secret to share--change is calling.
"Credit unions' biggest competitor isn't the traditional bank--it's the apathy among bank customers," said Bill Grant, founder of Big Bang Electrical, the Seattle-based advertising agency that designed the latest Credit Unions of Washington campaign. "People may get annoyed with their bank, but they tend to just live with it because, while it's obviously not great, it isn't bad enough to make a switch and try something else. 'Change is Calling' serves as a rally cry for those frustrated thousands that change is good and nothing is more satisfying than making a change for the better."
Targeting primarily women ages 18 to 44, the campaign includes television commercials, a Web site resource (www.discovercerditunions.com) and a viral marketing component (changeisbeautiful.net).
The first television spot, which just wrapped up an eight-week run, plays off metaphors of frustrating situations people can relate to and features a female driver coming to a four-way stop at the exact same time as three other cars. She thinks to herself, "This is aggravating. My old bank used to aggravate me, stall me, frustrate me. Then I heard anyone could bank at a credit union. So I joined and left aggravation in the dust." As the other drivers are left dealing with the stop-and-start game, the heroine self-assuredly steps on her gas and gets going.
"Traffic here is a huge issue so that is something people connect with and we highlighted the driver as a credit union member transformed and the idea of change making her happy and content," said Grant. "We want to elevate the perception of credit unions. Our research revealed that credit unions suffer from almost too much of a grassroots image, with some consumers saying a credit union was like putting money in a shoebox. So it was important the commercials had the same high quality feel they are used to seeing with bank ads."
According to Kristina Walters, CUOW Cooperative Advertising committee treasurer and WSECU vice president of marketing and business development, while this year's spot had a shorter run, it had a bigger impact in terms of exposure. It appeared on a variety of channels during first run, including primetime programs "American Idol," "Ghost Whisperer," "Survivor," "Law and Order," "Desperate Housewives" and "The Biggest Loser."
"Financial services is a tough sell, so instead we talked about how small changes can make a big impact with the goal of building a brand that inspires people to consider making credit unions part of their lives," said Walters.
To reinforce the idea, social networking sites, blogs, e-mail, online media outreach and interactive advertising are being used through the end of the year to connect people everywhere in Washington to changeisbeautiful.net.
There people can sign up their friends to receive short philosophical musings from celebrity Carl Weathers. He is best known for his roles as
Apollo Creed in the "Rocky" film series and re-curring role on "Arrested Development."
Showing a bit of a softer side in the 30-45 second Web video shorts, the longtime Washington resident rides his Norwegian bicycle with flower basket meeting local folks and giving them a bit of encouragement to embrace positive change in their everyday lives. A new video will be available every week.
Grant likens the viral component to a sprinkle of perfume to lure people into the larger idea of changing for the better and having fun with it.
"We wanted them to say this came from a credit union?" said Grant. "It's been up only about two weeks now and already has about 6,000 hits, 4,500 sign ups in Washington to get the weekly inspirational musing video clips and the time spent on the site is about three minutes per person, so they are having fun with it."
He said those who are interested in learning more can click on a link to CUOW's consumer Web site resource (www.discovercreditunions.com) where "free thinkers" are welcomed. The site includes information about how credit unions work compared to banks, the television commercial, and links to find a local credit union.
One unexpected benefit has been the interest from at least three credit union leagues to customize and use the "Change is Calling" campaign in their respective states. Walters says CUOW are looking into the possibility and is in the process of gathering information. In the meantime interested leagues should contact her via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"It's a consideration campaign. The main goal is to plant a seed to raise the credit union profile as a whole, make them more relevant and have consumers consider a credit union as we tell them you don't have to do your banking at a bank," said Grant. "Closing the deal is up to the individual credit unions."