CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- While local football favorites the Carolina Panthers may not have made it to the Super Bowl, Charlotte Metro Credit Union pulled pigs out from under a blanket at game time.
The third-quarter of Super Bowl XLIII marked the debut of the $185 million credit union's "Fee Pig" television commercial. The humorous spot featured a woman with her big bank fee pig meeting her friend for lunch. As she complains about her bank fees,
the pig squeals for more "food," which are actually dollar bills.
While her friend talks up Charlotte Metro CU's low fees, the pig suddenly splits into two fee-eating pigs as the woman sighs that her bank has merged once again. The edgy 30-second commercial is designed to play up the lower fees charged by Charlotte Metro as compared to Charlotte area banks while poking fun at the fallout from the growing number of local bank mergers.
"We have a good story to tell. While it represents a massive commitment from our marketing budget, I believe that the current economic environment presents an enormous opportunity to compare ourselves to the more well-known banks," said Charlotte Metro CU President Bob Bruns.
According to the credit union, the fee pig represents everything from the bank fee that wasn't expected and the bank fees consumers thought they could avoid to bank fees that consumers didn't even know existed. On its Web site, www.cmcu.org, the credit union points out that the fee pig "is very real, very hungry and it eats your money-in fact it can eat as much as you will give it and will never turn down a dollar."
Charlotte Metro CU Marketing Vice President Nathan Tothrow said that given the credit union's past success with television advertising combined with the local consumers' dissatisfaction with area banks' fee structures, investing in a Super Bowl media buy made marketing sense.
"For us, making a value proposition based on drawing a favorable comparison between Charlotte Metro and larger financial institutions was worthy of the largest television advertising stage available," said Tothrow. "When we looked at the Super Bowl book rates we realized that advertising during the game was an even better deal than typical cable buys because the Super Bowl is the one time people actually wait for and watch the commercials. Having a quality spot on air as part of some of the best creative commercials in the country-we couldn't ask for a better platform to get our message out."
This marks the credit union's second foray onto the Super Bowl media field and third year doing television commercials. Last year's Charlotte Metro's Super Bowl ad was part of the credit union's branding plan to plant itself deeper into the public conscious and was so successful that it resulted in an overall growth of 21%.
To cut down on costs, Tothrow develops the ad concept and script in-house. This year's post Super Bowl marketing plans for the fee pig commercial include a regular rotation run through March and launching shorter, product and service spots.
"Given the current banking environment, there's not a lot of good news for consumers so when you have something positive to offer that gets a laugh-especially this year-it should be a win on all counts," said Tothrow. "Being a part of that Super Bowl ad mix, even if it is just locally, has an exponential increase on what I call the aura of viability and helps Charlotte Metro rise above the advertising clutter because consumers don't expect a local branch on this type of stage. The perception of most consumers is 'if this financial institution is advertising, it must be doing well' and that kind of attention and way of thinking only helps our brand image."
Tothrow added that he couldn't have asked for a better game in terms of audience for the spot. Considering the game was literally decided within the last 35 seconds, he said the "eyeball factor" was high with people glued to their television sets.