Could a cute robot made of cardboard and recycled bits along with his sidekicks Penny, Pig and Boxy make savings fun for kids?
Tinker Federal Credit Union certainly hopes its new mascot, Save-A-Tron 5000, and The SavAbles help deepen its relationships with members age 13 and under.
The team is part of the Oklahoma-based credit union's new SaveAbles Kids Club, which includes a microsite complete with online games and resources for teachers and parents.
According to TFCU Manager of Marketing Programs Will Fathree, the move to develop its own children's program has been long overdue.
"We'd been using our previous packaged program for 13 years, and as we began to expand into other cities, our contract for the children's program only included using the mascot in Oklahoma City. It became too restrictive to keep that program, but our young members were used to seeing the character, so we knew we had to come up with something original and equally engaging," said Fathree.
After months of research revealed that other area financial institutions' children's programs were generally turnkey programs, similar to the one they had been using, Fathree saw an opportunity for TFCU to stand out from the competition.
The marketing team then worked with an agency Third Degree to develop the unique yet practical characters that included a piggy bank (Piggy), a jar filled with pennies (Penny) and a box (Boxy). Focus groups consisting of kids age 5-10 revealed that boys and girls could not only relate to the characters, but they also got what Save-A-Tron was about- saving money and making the most of what you have. In addition, responses to other questions about money, school and other activities helped provide insight to what giveaways, activities and online games would be most effective in helping teach children at a young age to save their money and watch it grow. Focus groups also had a positive reaction to the Save-A-Tron 5000 robot mascot that looked like it was made using a cardboard box, tape and other household items.
To help make the transition to the new program as seamless as possible, kids club members were sent a postcard from the previous character stating that he was taking a trip to a faraway galaxy in a rocket ship made for him out of a cardboard box and extra holiday lights by his friend, Save-A-Tron, who would stay to take his place.
"We're really excited about these new original characters that no one else in the country has," said Fathree. "We're also really proud of the interactive component which we didn't have with the old program and we envision adding new information and games to keep the content fresh. Our ultimate goal is to be more engaging and take the Kids Club to a new level."
Since being introduced, Save-A-Tron has been busy with back-to-school appearances at local schools, participating in community events, and plans are even underway to host a Save-A-Tron day.
"He is a hit with the kids," said Fathree. "We have used him at some of the financial education workshops we've held in elementary schools and hope to do that more, as well as having him visit other kid-friendly places like the local museum."