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The third credit union to implement the Gen Y-targeted Young & Free marketing campaign has announced the winner of its spokesperson search.The $1.4 billion-South Carolina Federal Credit Union started looking for its Young & Free campaign spokesperson in February by inviting 18- to 25-year-olds to apply for the job via a 60-second YouTube video, a blog post and a personal information form. The credit union selected its three finalists from 27 applicants and opened up an online voting poll to determine the winner. Josh Sutherland, 22, came out on top to become the credit union’s newest employee.“One thing the spokesperson search showed about the credit union was that we were hiring for a very cool position when most people aren’t hiring at all,” said Beth Jaskiewicz, senior vice president of marketing at South Carolina Federal.Sutherland will be a salaried employee at the credit union for one year. The job entails being the Young & Free South Carolina ambassador to 18- to 25-year-olds by participating at events and creating regular video and blog posts on the Young & Free South Carolina Web site, YoungFreeSC.com.The Young & Free campaign started with Servus Credit Union in Alberta, Canada, in 2007. In 2008, Texas Dow Employees Credit Union in Lake Jackson, Texas started the first Young & Free campaign in the United States with Young & Free Texas.After seeing that the age of the credit union’s average member was growing older, Jaskiewicz started to take a look at the Young & Free campaign examples. For years, South Carolina Federal had a student banking package for college students, but Jaskiewicz said that it really wasn’t bringing in the results the credit union wanted.The original plan the credit union had was to target three different age groups, those under the age of 12, those between 12 and 18 and those 18 and up, with financial literacy micro-sites.“We realized that doing that would be more difficult to do than we had originally thought. We saw that the traditional approaches to Gen Y weren’t working and took a look at Young & Free.”South Carolina Federal started working on Young & Free South Carolina last fall, but the credit union wanted to be careful in selecting the right time to launch the spokesperson search. Jaskiewicz said they waited until February so that they wouldn’t compete for attention with the presidential election and the inauguration.Jaskiewicz advised other credit unions looking to capture Gen Y that having the assistance of social media experts is critical.“If you think that social media is just having a blog then you have a lot to learn. If you don’t know much about social media, then have an expert on your team or partner with someone that does.”When it came time to select the three finalists, Jaskiewicz enlisted the help of Gen Y employees. In the process of implementing the Young & Free campaign, the credit union discovered that they had approximately 100 employees in the Gen Y age range.The initial video submission was very important in the selection process, Jaskiewicz said, along with having a following in social media.The ultimate decision to select Sutherland came from public opinion, as he received the most votes from the online voting poll.Sutherland graduated from college in August 2008 with a degree in marketing and came across the spokesperson position in his job search.Initially, Sutherland said that he didn’t know what to expect from the position, and he didn’t have high hopes until he saw the videos other applicants had produced. “I watched other videos and thought I could produce something just as good,” Sutherland said in explaining what made him apply for the job.The fun aspect of the job and the perks that came with it, such as use of an iPhone, Mac computer and camcorder, further enticed Sutherland.He admitted that he didn’t know much about credit unions before he applied; one of his first video posts showed him closing his account at a bank and opening his account at the credit union. Before Young & Free sparked his attention, Sutherland said he didn’t know credit unions were nonprofit and that he didn’t understand the membership aspect.During the application process, Sutherland said he researched credit unions and is continuing to learn more everyday as he starts the spokesperson job.The idea behind credit unions is one topic Sutherland said he will try and communicate to his Gen Y peers. On his personal agenda, Sutherland said he wants to teach his peers how to manage finances.“A lot of my friends and people my age that I know are terrible with their finances. People my age buy crazy things,” Sutherland said, citing an example of one of his college roommates that spent $100 on a pet chameleon and $200 on a tank for it.Sutherland said he plans on using humor to get his peers interested in the credit union and in financial education.“I’m very sarcastic and a smart aleck by nature. I’m going to have to find the line between keeping it entertaining and educational at the same time.”–[email protected]

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