Loan Promotion Is A Real Gas, Man

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MASSENA, N.Y.-SeaComm FCU is taking members back to the '60s-when people drove VW vans and spent 31 cents a gallon on gas.

In its "Pump Up The Savings" promo-which uses 1960s imagery—members can buy gas for 31 cents a gallon when they take out an auto loan at the CU. If members finance a new or used car loan from $15,000 to $20,000, they get 20 gallons of gas at the low price, 25 gallons for loans from $20,001 to $25,000, and 30 gallons for loans above $25,001.

SeaComm monitors the average gas price daily and gives members a gift card that covers the difference between average gas price and 31 cents a gallon. "That way it's easy for members, they can get gas anywhere they want," said CEO Scott Wilson.

Like many credit unions across the country, loan volume has been flat at SeaComm and Wilson said the gas giveaway is just a catchy way to attract business. "There is a lot of competition for auto loans right now. We think this is a way to grab the attention of borrowers and stand out a little, do something different and create a buzz."

To help lock up more business, if members are preapproved for an auto loan they get 60 gallons of gas on any loan above $15,000.

The promo began in May and the $419-million credit union has booked more than $2 million in auto loans the first five weeks. Wilson said SeaComm is not tracking how much of that total is due to the promotion, but noted that 91 gas gift cards have been given out.

People Waiting, Not Borrowing

"We are battling the economy. People are still waiting to see how this economy will turn out. If they are borrowing, they are borrowing for a lot smaller amounts. People who used to get a new car every three years are holding onto them for 60 months."

Wilson said SeaComm is cautiously optimistic about the auto loan market eventually making a comeback, and no matter how well the gas promotion fares as it runs its scheduled course through July 1, the CEO said staff have enjoyed the campaign. "We have decorated our lobbies in a '60s theme, and it's just fun for the staff. It gives them something else to talk to members about."

Marketing sent direct mail to selected members and each postcard had a personalized URL that takes members to a web page that offers them the gas deal and a link to begin preapproval. Wilson said new members who join as a result of the offer are being targeted for cross-sales to make them actives users of the credit union.

Rates for the campaign were not changed. On vehicles model year 2008 and newer SeaComm charges 3.99% APR for 60 months. Members can reduce that rate by 50 basis points if they take out another loan and have direct deposit.

Wilson added that the promotion, also touted the "Fuel Flashback," was initiated, planned, and created by VP of marketing and communications, Tammy Harrigan. "She is extremely creative and always brings something interesting to our promotions," added Wilson.

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