The credit union has teamed up with local Jeff Belzer Chevrolet, Dodge and Kia dealer to launch the "I Hate My Car" campaign.
Consumers simply have to complete an entry form to make their case on why they hate their car and why it should win in 150 words or less. After filling out the form, they drive to any US Federal CU branch to snap a photo of their car. One creative car-hater will win a 2009 Chevy Aveo. To ensure that every entrant feels like a winner, all contest participants will receive valuable discounts from both Belzer and the $802 million Burnsville, Minn.-based US Federal CU.
"We were brainstorming for a sweepstakes idea that would generate meaningful branch traffic," said US Federal Senior Vice President of Marketing/Business Development Marty Kelly. "This is great because it enables car owners to vent their frustration and ultimately replace their current vehicle."
Launched just when Cash for Clunkers was wrapping up, the campaign became an easy new alternative. As part of the partnership, US Federal CU is featured in all of the dealer's advertisements.
"Why just replace a clunker when there are so many reasons to hate your car," said Kelly. "It could be the paint color, the smell or even a bad memory associated with it. We wanted to provide a simple solution for consumers looking to make a change."
He added that the paperwork and conditions attached to the federal government's clunker program only helped fuel the Hate My Car campaign.
"It's gaining momentum, and I think that is because our campaign is more expansive," said US Federal Business/Community Development Specialist Rachel Gronewald. "Our goals with this were to get some relevant branch traffic, and increase exposure, membership and loans. This was originally going to be just a September event, but we've gotten so many responses that we don't want to cut the campaign off at the knees, so we're keeping our options open."
So far she's been so impressed with the creativity demonstrated in the entries that a few of the images and stories have been featured in promotional e-mails. In addition to online and newspaper ads, US Federal is spreading the word at each branch via signage and staffers handing out exclusive I Hate My Car clings.
"We've found it works better than a bumper sticker because it isn't permanent," said Kelly. "It's also been a great way to build awareness while creating a cross selling opportunity. When you are out on the road or in traffic people wonder why you hate your car, and I've even been asked about it by my neighbor who noticed mine while it was parked in the driveway."
"The clings were a fun addition to the campaign and a great way to get the community involved," added Gronewald.
He said the credit union is contemplating hosting an I Hate My Car event at the Belzer dealership.