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United Federal Credit Union of St. Joseph, Mich. has come up with a novel way to reach the Gen Y college crowd: let them “rant, vent and complain” about their experience with banks and soon enough they’ll switch to United Federal.Just three weeks old, the campaign, which uses kiosks, videos and a Web site, www.theantibank.com, is “doing just great, and we’re already getting many new accounts,” said Donna Rohrer, vice president of marketing.The venture, dubbed “Matter,” invites those between 18 and 30 to “express their feelings about financial matters” in kiosks stationed in the branches with comments uploaded to the Web site or on draw-your-own-design T-shirts.Scholarship prizes of $500 for the best videos and $250 for T-shirts are awarded to those rants judged most clever.In positioning itself as an alternative banking experience, the $849 million southwest Michigan CU stressed that its primary goal “is to create an opportunity for interactive dialogue with Gen Y, as opposed to pushing a one-way channel of information.”The United FCU Web site encourages the Gen Y crowd to “share your thoughts about all things financial. Everything from what’s up with those Washington bailout packages to why some people have pictures of kitties on their checks.”Gary Easterling, president/CEO, stressed that the Matter campaign is not designed to ridicule banks but to connect with young people “in a relevant way, to let them say what they think,” and then to demonstrate that United is an alternative.The campaign, he said, “establishes credit unions as the trusted and genuine banking experience that is uniquely tailored for them.”According to a UFCU, research has shown that “Gen Yers are highly skeptical of traditional corporate advertising, and therefore, UFCU took a more liberal approach not only with the promotional materials, but also with the development of its web site and college campus tour that features interactive multimedia kiosks.”The Michigan CU said it has already been receiving rant video returns from its kiosks in several college towns including those at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith and at Lake Michigan College in Benton Harbor.“We have another event scheduled May 17 at Marion Technical College in Ohio, and let me tell you, our calendar is full since we are getting requests for festivals and youth fairs throughout the summer,” said Rohrer, noting the campaign was also linked to Credit Union Youth Week last month.Students who win the Matter video contest receive their $500 scholarship usable at the college bookstore and $250 for students who draw on T-shirts with fabric paint provided.“The campaign works quite well since it ties back to the college and to selling our own products,” said Rohrer.All the videos are shot in a testimonial style. Among comments recorded by participants were beefs about bank rates and fees, as well as, “They make me feel stupid every time I ask a question.” One student said, “I think the bailout sucks.”Rants videotaped on the campuses are uploaded to the Web site, but Gen Yers not located on targeted campuses can submit their rants online.–[email protected]

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