Cyber security, fraud and protecting the tax-exempt status for credit unions are all issues important to readers of Credit Union Times; but apparently, so are cuddly credit union mascots.
One of the stories that garnered the most views on CUTimes.com in 2013 was about the hundreds of mascots that represent credit unions around the country 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.
”I was surprised to hear how popular the story on mascots was, but, I’m excited to hear there was such interest,” said Robin McKenzie, senior vice president, marketing &communications of the $2.2 billion Redwood Credit Union in Santa Rosa, Calif. “The mascots have helped our young members identify with our new youth programs and we plan to continue to use them to market those products.”
McKenzie said that mascots such as Reddy the Redwood are often a visual personification of a credit union's brand.
“People receive so many messages every day (mobile, email, texts, tweets, voicemails, online and traditional advertising), it seems we're drawn more to visuals — pictures and videos — to help us get a message quicker and easier,” she said. “If the old adage a picture tells a thousand words is true, perhaps a mascot creates that simple visual that communicates something positive to people in a way they appreciate.”
Previously only associated with sports teams, mascots can be a great additional element to beef up attention as well as add personality and engagement around a brand. 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.
“I think mascots are an unique marketing tool that take your marketing efforts to the next level,” said Tara Houser, vice president of marketing of the $154 million First Capital Federal Credit Union in York, Pa. “Mascots may create an emotional connection to your credit union or a certain product that traditional marketing channels may not. I would recommend using mascots if it’s a fit for the credit union and what they are trying to accomplish.”
Scuba Sammy, Starry Starfish and Roxy the Rockstar promote First Capitol’s Deep Sea Savers accounts, which are savings accounts for young members.
Reddy is getting a custom comic strip in the Redwood’s newsletter. The strip will depict the adventures of Reddy, and along the way share important money tips and lessons for youth members to benefit from, McKenzie said.
“Redwood Credit Union continues to support and promote our mascot,” she said. “Reddy the Redwood. resonates with people and is effective for us and Reddy's part of the RCU family. Mascots are positive and fun, and after a long, arduous recession, perhaps readers are looking for positive, fun, creative and feel good stories that make them smile.”