I’m a huge fan of “The Walking Dead.” I loved the comic series, and I’m pretty much addicted to the AMC television series it produced. “The Walking Dead” will soon wrap up its third season, and we’ve seen our cast of characters go through quite a lot. At times, they grow by bringing in outsiders. At times, they shrink because...well, because a zombie ate one or two of them.
Zombies are a pretty big cultural phenomenon right now. Between dozens of movies (“Warm Bodies,” the upcoming “World War Z”), video games (“Left 4 Dead,” “Resident Evil”) shows and, yes, even a song or two. Jonathan Coulton’s “Re: Your Brains” tells the story of a group of zombies led by a mid-level office manager zombie who, very politely, ask to eat their co-worker.
Naturally, a few enterprising credit unions and marketing vendors have come up with zombie-themed campaigns to ride the wave of zombie-mania. CU Swag came up with an “off-the-rack” campaign pack that features a running zombie theme to help sell you a car that can escape a stumbling horde of monsters. E&A Credit Union in Michigan came up with a similar idea and a decayed, stressed-out version of their logo to boot. 121 uses zombies and zombie-themed cards to push loans. IC Federal Credit Union came up with an animated video that asks viewers, “How can you support your family if you’re a zombie? Through life insurance!”
They’re all pretty approachable campaigns. The zombies aren’t particularly terrifying and there’s not a lot of complicated explanation. The goal is, as it always should be, to make an idea a little more digestible.
Yeah, I know, “zombies” and “digestible.” Just bear with me.
I can’t speak to the success of any given one of these campaigns. I went looking for specifics of loan growth and account origination for each and didn’t come up with much in the way of numbers. Assuming zombies hold out as a cultural phenomenon (vampires were all the rage a few years ago and are now beginning to wane), campaigns such as this might be around for a few years to come. I’d argue that it’s kind of fun around Halloween, considering everyone’s in a spooky mood anyway. But what’s the real value of the zombie as a marketing tool?
The campaigns themselves focus on the idea of survival–being able to escape, having provisions, staying alive. Indeed, that’s the appeal of zombie media. It challenges you to ask yourself, “How prepared would I be if society broke down?” The answers aren’t easy and the more you think about it, the more you realize how much there is to consider. Finance can seem like a chore, but we all know it’s important to have a safety net, even though very few of us follow through with creating one. The Financial Brand recently reported on a study that showed almost 50% of Americans are unprepared for a financial disaster. They have no savings, subprime credit scores and no liquid assets.
In the interest of providing teachable lessons, I’d advise you to check out these campaigns.
And definitely read Max Brooks’ “The Zombie Survival Guide.” It looks at zombies as a real threat with real causes and real effects. Best of all, it has critical guidelines for readers to follow if, in fact, a “zombocalypse” ever does rear its ugly head. How can you apply some of Brooks’ “Rules for Surviving a Zombie Attack” to your member relationship strategy?
Organize before they rise. A warning to be prepared well before you have to go scrambling for provisions. This is important when talking about savings, a 401k and share certificates.
The feel no fear. Why should you? Another way of saying don’t panic. Finances can freak people out almost as bad as a zombie invasion. It’s up to you, the credit union, to make finances understandable and manageable.
Keep moving, keep low, keep quiet, keep alert. When it comes to money and account protection, convince member not to use passwords and login credentials that are easily guessed. It makes them a target for hackers. As alerts go, setting up balance reminders and withdrawal alerts can help a member avoid overdrafts.
No place is safe, only safer. In a zombie scenario, one should never get too comfortable in one’s current position. There’s always a way to be a little more careful. Consider reinforcing the idea of preparation to members. It’s never a bad idea to have an emergency line of credit or savings bundle, just in case.
An informed, active member is a good member. Help members build better brains by educating them, preparing them, and alerting them to possible pitfalls, not only with zombies, but all year round. Don’t bother with the wallet, go for the head.
Jimmy Marks is creative media director at DigitalMailer Inc.
Contact 703-733-0339 ext. 115 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Cooperative Trust is a grassroots organization composed of several hundred young credit union professionals. Its activities include meetings, mentorships online collaboration and development projects. Opinions expressed are the personal views of the author.