Mass Media Being Used To Raise Awareness Of 2nd Chance Auto Loans

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Digital Federal Credit Union believes in giving people second chances. Especially when it could save them money.

The $2.2-billion credit union that serves more than 500 SEGs has launched its annual 2nd Chance Car Loan" campaign last month, but this time expanded its target audience to non-members.

"We've had the program in place for about three years," said Tim Garner, VP of Marketing and Strategic Planning for DCU. "But, in the past, we mostly marketed to our own members."

He said with the help of the Cronin/Wallwork Curry advertising agency, the promotion is now reaching a wider audience via 15-second television ads, along with radio, print, direct marketing, web and point-of-purchase components that tout the possible savings DCU can offer.

"The average savings last year was $2,090 over the life of the loan," Garner said, adding that the campaign is different in that it focuses on auto refinancing rather than the typical ads that spotlight home refinancing.

In one particular ad titled "Tim," a casually dressed man is seen leaning on a shiny sports utility vehicle. He then walks around the vehicle and breathes in the fresh air as the voiceover says, "Tim Goodwin is definitely keeping his certified, pre-owned SUV. But, he traded his loan. Because refinancing with DCU's 2nd Chance Car Loan can save thousands." The spot cuts to a frame of a man sitting on the SUV's tailgate as the words "Average savings $2,090" appear on the screen followed by the CU's logo and tagline, "Think beyond the bank."

Straightforward Creative

"The creative strategy...is straightforward and is meant to simply communicate DCU's service benefits," said Jack Wallwork, co-creative director of CWC. "This particular push is part of our overall awareness campaign to illustrate the benefits enjoyed by people who think beyond the bank, and it aims to bring in new DCU members by touting one of the credit union's best products."

Three weeks into this year's promotion, Garner said the response has been pleasing.

"We have had people calling us on their cell phones in their cars just after hearing the radio commercials," he said. "From March 1 to April 13, we did about 550 car refinances."

He said the CU's ultimate goal is to increase its total loan portfolio by 30% this year.

"It's really a fun campaign to do," Garner said. "We really are trying to help people and when we're able to refinance somebody's loan and save them money, they really love us."

Garner said his CU's present rate is very competitive with other financial businesses in the area. It's credit-based pricing offers those with the best scores a 60-month loan at 4.49% APR. Digital Credit Union offers loans out to 84 months.

Digital, founded in 1979 as a single sponsor CU, was named the fastest growing large CU in the country by Callahan & Associates for eight years ending Sept. 30. Garner noted that when its sponsoring company, Digital Equipment, started to deteriorate, the CU began adding companies. Its leaders chose not to change the name because it was such a familiar brand and it fit well with its new member base, 55% of whom are high-tech savvy and utilize its home banking services.

"For the new members, Digital has a new connotation," he said. "For the old members, it still carries a lot of pride of ownership."

He said the CU did drop "employees" from its original name and launched a brand awareness campaign after finding that top of mind awareness in several communities was only 5%. He said the goal-with the help of the 2nd Chance Car Loan promotion-is to increase that number to 10% by October.

The promotion will run in three cycles throughout the year in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

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