The $380 million USF Federal Credit Union of Tampa has become a newfound favorite of PETA, the animal rights group, after the Florida CU agreed to drop an online "running the bulls" promotion supporting a financial literacy contest.
"We commend USF for being a truly compassionate organization" said PETA after the CU cut a reference to the Pamplona, Spain, bull running in an "Are You the Best Bull?" contest, in which members submitted home-grown money management video for prizes.
PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) based in Norfolk, Va., called the event in Spain "cruel and barbaric" and, in an April 13 letter to the CU, said it received complaints from students and alumni at the University of South Florida about the USF promotion.
The USF pitch on YouTube that originally included an expense-paid trip to Pamplona for the top prize winner was built around the bull mascot of the Florida college.
Richard Skaggs, president/CEO of USF, apologized for the Spain linkage since "we share your sentiments" about animal cruelty. Contest rules have been changed, allowing prize winners to make their own choice about vacation destinations in Spain.
"I must confess we would not have structured the promotion in the current form had we considered the information you provided," wrote Skaggs in a reply letter to PETA, noting also the bull mascot tie-in "means nothing more than a financial market term that is often used when referencing the stock market such as the use of a ‘bear’ or ‘bull’ market."
The primary purpose of the promotion, he said, is to build financial awareness "through various money savings tips and stories shared by those who participate in the contest and award the best entry an opportunity to travel."
"In our various marketing pieces promoting the event, we focus on the winner having the opportunity of visiting Spain," he said, noting that now with the change "while our promotion covers the winner’s expenses to visit Spain, their itinerary and chosen activities are fully" up to the individual.
Skaggs said new ads developed for next year on the literacy contest would make no more references to Pamplona. Overall, the video promotion has worked well for the credit union, with 40 entries, said Skaggs.