BURBANK, Calif. – Vista FCU knows how to appeal to its members’ auto buying fantasies. Buying a Lamborghini, Viper or Rolls Royce may be beyond most credit union members’ dreams, but Vista FCU decided to tickle its members’ mid-life crisis nerve to market its low 5.99% APR auto loan rates. In previous years, VFCU held an annual auto loan promotion during the summer months. It got to the point, said VFCU Marketing Manager Jim Kasch, where members would start asking the credit union in May and June when the promotion was going to run – in 1999, VFCU did $32 million in loans during the three months that year’s auto loan promotion ran. But this summer, VFCU was looking at an 80% loan-to-share ratio, so the credit union decided to test the waters and try something different. Instead of running a formal, full-fledge auto loan promotion, VFCU decided to run a sneak attack campaign. Does Kasch consider a Lamborghini Diablo-VT a sneak attack? “We’re the Disney credit union,” said Kasch. “We’re always doing things out of the box. We know our membership and what they expect from us, so this wasn’t as far-fetched as it may seem. We finance all kinds of vehicles, whether the models are realistic or not, like Corvettes and Vipers” In fact, with its Southern California field-of-membership including nearly 57,000 members, it’s not unusual for VFCU to pre-approve an auto loan for $40,000. As of July, the $280 million VFCU’s auto loan portfolio was $195 million. Auto loans accounted for 60% of the credit union’s total loan portfolio. So VFCU decided to “quietly” promote its low 5.99% APR loan rates in its newsletter, and even reminded members of the money they could save by financing their fantasy car through the credit union. “Go ahead, satisfy that mid-life crisis. A 595 horsepower Lamborghini Diablo VT might be just what you need. But surely you haven’t lost your senses altogether – you could save nearly $20,000 by financing that devilishly decadent asphalt grinder at Vista FCU,” the marketing copy read. Hoffman Creative provided design, copy and layout for the project. “Granted, most of us won’t need a $275,000 ego compensator – but the truth is, you’ll discover dramatic savings on any vehicle you choose as long as you choose to finance it at Vista FCU. Maybe all you need to `satisfy your youthful craving’ is a new Ford Mustang or soft-top jeep 4×4. At 5.99% APR, you’ll save plenty of dough compared to financing at the dealership,” the copy continued. By Oct. 31, VFCU is looking to close out the 5.99% auto loan rate offering. The credit union’s goal is to do $1.6-$2 million in auto loans a week. In July, Kasch said VFCU did $8 million in auto loans, and for the week of Aug. 20 it did $3 million in loans. “Some credit unions might think the copy for the marketing piece irreverent, but we know our members,” said Kasch. -

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