Credit unions around the country use mascots to create a fun, entertaining presence at events such as branch grand openings, community events and even parades. Many credit unions have created mascots to support their kids clubs, while others just want to bring a little excitement into their credit union.
For decades mascots such as the Michelin Man (1898) and the Pillsbury Dough Boy (1960s) have become familiar mascots branding their respective products, so it’s no surprise that credit unions have added mascots to their portfolios.
There are hundreds of mascots that represent credit unions around the country that involve employees dressing up in special costumes, while other mascots are animated, and some are stuffed or have wet noses.
Here is a sample of nine from around the land.
Next Page: A Rite of Passage
Above, Moola Moola is a popular attraction at art contests for Philadelphia school children.
Philadelphia Federal Credit Union
“Moola Moola is the mascot for Savings Club for Kids, a savings account for children 12 years old and under,” said Karen Eavis, communications specialist at Philadelphia FCU. “Moola Moola teaches our youngest members the value of saving while attending community events and visiting elementary school classrooms with our financial educator.”
Through the years, many employees of the credit union have volunteered to play the role of Moola Moola, Eavis said. “It’s a rite of passage.”
Moola Moola recently attended a grand opening event celebrating the credit union’s new branch in the Fishtown section of Philadelphia and youngsters lined up around the block to meet him.
“He’s a local celebrity,” Eavis confirmed.
Next Page: The Logix of Robix
Logix Federal Credit Union
The former Lockheed Credit Union in Los Angeles is now known as Logix Federal Credit Union and has a cool caricature mascot that mirrors the hip new brand – a friendly and inquisitive robot named Robix.
Robix supports the $3.6 billion Logix FCU and stands out from other financial institutions’ mascots in that he is an orange and white flying robot.
Robix gives members and the community another way to interact with the brand through unique premium items including robot air fresheners, bobble heads, social media and contests.
He also adds an element of fun to functional applications like online chat.
“We’ve found the character resonates well with the younger generation, which was one of four primary objectives of last year’s name change,” said Andrea Carpenter, senior vice president of marketing and strategy.
“We’re still fine-tuning exactly when the robot character should take center stage and when he should play a supporting role,” Carpenter said, “but are excited about the prospects and believe he will serve us well over the long term.”
Next Page: And a Pelican Shall Lead Them All
Pelican State Credit Union
More than eight years ago, the marketing department of the $218 million Pelican State Credit Union in Baton Rouge, La., purchased the credit union's first pelican mascot costume and Petey the Pelican was born.
From tailgating at football games to riding on the credit union’s Christmas floats, Petey the Pelican represents Pelican State CU and their "corporate cool" culture.
Petey is fun, supportive and always willing to lend a helping hand at community events, said Chelsea Gstohl, marketing specialist for Pelican State CU.
“Over the last eight years, he has become a local celebrity in the credit union’s 10 branch communities across the state,” Gstohl said. “Parents wait in line to have their youngsters take photos with Petey and he puts a smile on everyone's face wherever he goes.”
And he’s no bird brain. Petey the Pelican is an advocate for youth financial education and Pelican State CU's Youth Savings Accounts. He attends community events, especially those geared toward children. He is also the star of the credit union’s own coloring book, which teaches children the importance of saving money and responsible spending.
“Petey boosts morale at Pelican State CU employee events and is always greeted with hugs and high fives,” Gstohl continued. “Petey the Pelican is a special part of our Pelican family.”
Next Page: A Trio of CU Troubadours
Above, Scuba Sammy mans the information table.
First Capital Federal Credit Union
The $154 million First Capital Federal Credit Union in York, Pa., has not one, not two, but three mascots. Scuba Sammy and Starry Starfish represent the Deep Sea Savers account which is for those up to and including age 13.
At age 14, they move to the Rock Star Super Savers club and Roxy Rockstar is the mascot for that program. Scuba Sammy and Roxy Rockstar are played by credit union employees. Scuba Sammy wears a scuba costume, snorkel and flippers. Roxy has a sparkly purple shirt, leather jacket, purple wig and cool sunglasses and carries a guitar.
The credit union came up with the mascots because it wanted something relatable for the children and teens. It wanted the programs to be a takeoff of its branding, not just a canned program.
First Capital Federal Credit Union utilizes a star in its logo, but it didn’t want to go with a traditional “star” as their mascot, so the two other mascots carry the plush-toy star wherever they go.
“The children are really excited when they see Scuba Sammy and Roxy Rockstar at events,” said Tara Houser, vice president of marketing. “They ask for hugs and pictures. It’s really cute. We’re so glad they can relate to them.”
At times the mascots have stopped traffic with their antics and Roxy Rockstar rocked her purple pants when she was nine months pregnant.
Next Page: Them Old Bones
Michigan First Credit Union
Dinosaur mascot Max came to the $650 million Michigan First in Detroit on a mission: to instill money management and saving habits among children ages 12 and under as part of the MoneyKids program. Since joining the Michigan First family, Max has been quite successful in this campaign.
“As a credit union founded by educators, Michigan First’s team knew it was important to find a fun and enjoyable way to not only introduce kids to financial topics, but to truly connect with them,” said Linda Douglas, vice president of marketing.
“As the face of our MoneyKids program, Max travels to local schools and brings smiles out of students everywhere he goes, forming a bond and encouraging habits that we believe will stick with them for years to come.”
Traveling to dozens of local schools around metro Detroit, Max works with the students to ensure that they have a fun, positive impression from the credit union’s student-run branch and financial education programs.
Whether he’s encouraging healthy savings habits or high-fiving students for their enthusiasm, Max makes learning about finances fun and memorable.
Next Page: Reddy Stands Tall
Redwood Credit Union
The redwood became California's official state tree in 1937 and in 2004, Reddy the Redwood became the mascot for the $2.2 billion Redwood Credit Union in Santa Rosa, Calif., in conjunction with the rollout of a youth accounts program.
Inspired by a local dairy whose mascot (a cartoon cow) is well-known and beloved in the community, credit union staffers felt having a mascot for RCU would be a fun way to promote financial literacy to kids, as well as delight people in their communities at the many non-profit and community events they support throughout the year.
Custom plush Reddy toys that young savers earn upon reaching a $100 milestone in their Jr. Ranger savings account are given out and Reddy has his own column (“Reddy Says”) in the quarterly kids’ newsletter, the Jr. Ranger Review.
“Employees love volunteering to be Reddy at our events, so we have a rotating pool of employees who don the suit for our various events,” said Robin McKenzie, senior vice president of marketing and communications.
“Many local parades and events have themes, so our employees have even created costumes for Reddy to wear, such as an old west sheriff, a farmer, a hula dancer, a 50s greaser, and a holiday Reddy with a Santa hat,” McKenzie said.
When Reddy isn’t teaching financial literacy, building moral and pumping up the employees or dancing the hula, he can be found hanging out with other local mascots at community events.
Next Page: He’s Greeeat!
Above, Dollar Dog mans the wheel at a community event that included showing off a local fire truck.
Kellogg Community Federal Credit Union
The $422 million Kellogg Community Credit Union in Battle Creek, Mich., purchased the Dollar Dog mascot in the 2003-2004 timeframe when it started its Dollar Dog kids program.
The Dollar Dog kids program is a program provided by Marketing Partners Inc. The superhero mascot helps to promote the kids program to the community.
“There is no greater visibility at events and schools than a mascot,” said Rori Ross, marketing analytics manager at Kellogg Community FCU “Typically we have two to three people who usually volunteer to wear the suit and they have a lot of fun with it.”
Wearing the suit is no easy task. Dollar Dog never goes anywhere without a spotter or guide to help because the feet are so big there is limited vision with the head on.
“You can’t see down and the peripheral vision is limited as well so you have to be careful on steps, uneven pavement, and little kids that are below your line of sight,” Ross said. “Dollar Dog is not allowed to speak so when the spotter asks him a question, we get close to his face and nearly every time the person wearing it will turn their head towards you and because they can’t see you they end up head butting you with Dollar Dog’s nose, which the kids think is hilarious.”
Next Page: Wisdom of Widgets
When the $255 million, 31,428-member Erie General Electric Credit Union in Erie, Pa., changed its name to Widget Financial, it also acquired two uber-hip mascots named Widgey and Sprock.
When the name change came down, Trenton Mason, chief marketing officer for Widget FCU did a lot of research into financial brands throughout USA and Europe and saw that as a trend, many of the European FIs used caricature-centric advertising.
“I told my committee that we should consider putting our mascot right in the logo, but this seemed a little too “out there” for some,” Mason said. “Later on, we had solidified our new name and were in the logo design stage and I tended to give creative preference to any logo that could potentially have a mascot in it.
“In a final option of what would eventually become our logo, I drew little eyes and arms on the “G” gear in Widget and then sent my hand drawing to a local cartoonist. The cartoonist really just took off with it.”
Widgey and Sprock are used for the majority of the advertising, and the credit union finds that they seem to transcend race, age, gender.
“Widgey and Sprock let us keep things playful, while maintaining a professional look and feel,” Mason added. “We frequently get compliments from consumers throughout a very wide continuum and I personally have had children and grandparents alike tell me that they love our new look and these characters.”
Next Page: Gone to the Dogs
CanDo Credit Union
This $9.5 million credit union in Walbridge, Ohio, has only one location, but it has two mascots.
“We have two dogs that come to the credit union almost every day,” said Sue Kirk, an employee spokesperson for CanDo. “Cami is my dog. She is a 4 ½-year-old blonde cockapoo and Zoey is Mark’s (CEO Mark Sommer) dog and she is a 2 ½-year-old, white-and-black Shih Tzu.”
Kirk and Sommer had both lost older dogs and they needed a puppy to fill the void. As puppies, Sommer gave the OK to bring them to work. Both puppies were just a little over two pounds when they started their mascot duties. Now members are attached to both dogs and they bring them treats when they come in to manage their finances.
“Our dogs remember exactly which members bring them treats,” Kirk said. “They share a toy box in the back offices and the kids know this. They come back and get balls to throw for the dogs and they play tug-o-war with them. The dogs love the attention.”
And no one has to dress up in a mascot suit.