Bank Takes Shirt Off Your Back — And Then Some

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ST. PAUL, Minn. — When it comes to advertising, many credit unions play it safe. Not Affinity Plus FCU here, which has unveiled a new TV spot that seeks to "expose" banks.

The $1.3-billion, 131,000-member institution recently launched its "Ditch Your Bank" campaign, which includes everything from ads on bus shelters to billboards and television. The TV spot is particularly striking, asking "How much more do you want [big banks] to take?" as customers of "1st National Gargantuan Bank" have their clothes torn from their bodies.

"We did some consumer research...and what we found was that consumers have a lot of distaste for the banking industry today," said SVP Sarah Mason. "Our thought was that we can continue to promote ourselves as this nice alternative, or we can stand up really loudly and say 'This is what we oppose.'" The idea, "was really to focus on the exact opposite of what Affinity Plus stands for."

The entire campaign was instituted with the help of the Risdall Advertising Agency, a local shop that was encouraged to do "a thorough scrub of our brand," said Mason.

"We're leading this entire thing with 'Ditch Your Bank," she added. "Credit unions still suffer from low levels of awareness, so [the goal was] to lead with something that's going to catch people and grab them and it's easy to remember. It goes to the point that credit unions in our environment are still relatively unknown."

Tenacity Moving Forward

Affinity Plus has also created a blog for the site-or, as Mason called it, "a manifesto that really talks about our view of the banking industry today. We feel like we're on a revolution to change the way that consumers view banking, because it doesn't have to be the way it is today. It can be structured for people first, in a manner that's transparent and easy for people to understand. So we've got a lot of tenacity toward getting that moving, as well."

The campaign is targeting consumers age 25 to 55 who are frustrated by the current banking environment. Since launch, checking accounts have been on the rise, and Affinity Plus has also seen a 20% rise in membership.

"Our point is that we want to stand up very loud and very proud and say there is an alternative," said Mason. "And I can tell you that we back the execution. Our goal is really to make sure that consumers know there is an alternative; they don't have to sit back and go with the status quo and say 'Well, this fee is acceptable.'"

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