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ST. LOUIS, Mo. – There is a changing of the youth club mascot guard at Arsenal Credit Union. After some 10 years longtime Kids Club Mascot Kirby Kangaroo has “moved” on and a new mascot Tracker the Basset Hound is taking his place. While it is challenging to make such a change after kids have identified with the Kirby Kids Club brand, the $103 million credit union not only wanted an updated look but to create its own mascot rather than renting one. “Kirby is a national youth program and while it has really helped get youth accounts here there are a handful of credit unions in the St. Louis area that also use Kirby and it could get confusing,” said Arsenal CU Vice President Marketing Ken Moser. “We just felt it was time to have a unique identity for the club and mascot.” Moser says the process started in the third quarter of 2003 and took a great deal of planning. The CU eventually narrowed down the possibilities to a puffin, koala or basset hound. Moser says that although a number of tie-ins could have been used with the puffin especially since the St. Louis Zoo has a puffin/penguin exhibit it would have been a challenging mascot costume to create. In the end a focus group of boys and girls ages six to 12 selected Tracker as “top dog”. The credit union turned to local Kincaid Karacter Company, which also made Fredbird, the mascot for the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team to design Tracker. “It has worked out really well since we also wanted an identity and mascot that would be easily identified and appeal to all kids,” said Moser. “Having a mascot makes the club so much more interesting to kids than just having a club name and or theme and in doing research I was surprised to learn that only two of the 27 credit unions here had a mascot.” To help make the transition as smooth as possible for younger members Arsenal CU announced Kirby’s departure in a jumbo sized postcard to club members a month before “moving day”, saying that the kangaroo was moving back home to Australia to attend college and that Tracker would be taking his place. In addition a “Goodbye Kirby, Welcome Tracker” skating party was held for club members, which both mascots attended. “The kids were obviously sad to see Kirby go,” said Moser. “I dressed as Kirby at the party and one kid came up to me gave me a hug and said `good luck in college Kirby’. It is amazing how attached they are but so far the response to Tracker has been really great from members and employees.” Like the Kirby Kangaroo Kids Club, the newly named Tracker Kids Club members will receive a paw-print stamp in a special booklet for every $10 they deposit into their account. The stamps can then be redeemed at the credit union for a variety of new prizes which will be showcased in branches including yo-yos, light-up items, backpacks, bubble blower machines and basset hound stuffed animals. The credit union’s 1,300 kids club members also have other incentives to save. Each time they make a deposit of any amount, they are automatically entered into a monthly drawing for a $10 deposit. Winners’ names are published in the credit union’s quarterly member newsletter. At the end of each school year, kids can bring in their report cards with two or more A’s on them to an Arsenal CU branch to receive a gift certificate for a free ice cream cone. Tracker has also already made a public appearance in a local community parade and plans to attend kids club and several community events throughout the year. In total, the kids club switch came at an $8,000 price tag including costume, logo, new prizes, direct mail piece jumbo postcards, display cases and skating party.

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