Secret To CU's Auto Success? 'Laughing Gas'

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CARSON CITY, Nev.-"Laughing Gas" is among the reasons Greater Nevada Credit Union booked nearly $8.5 million in auto loans during the second quarter, a 222% increase from the same period last year.

Ron Willard, vice president of marketing for $465-million GNCU, said the increase can be attributed to the confluence of a comedic television commercial about embarrassing cars, a competitive loan rate, and its "Laughing Gas Photo Facebook" contest. Both the TV ad and the picture contest featured people wearing "Groucho" glasses with a large nose and a mustache.

"The commercials were funny, they left an impression, and we had a very competitive interest rate," he said. "The contest was an integral part of the overall campaign, but it probably didn't cause someone to rush out and buy a car-they probably were trying to win a gas card."

In the TV commercial people are shown who have an "embarrassing" car for various reasons-including a huge SUV that took ages to fill at the pump. Drivers wore Groucho glasses so others wouldn't recognize them, Willard explained.

The commercials began airing in mid-April and ran until the end of June. The loan promo was April 1 to June 30. The photo contest ran May 1 to June 12. Supporting all three points of the trident were a number of collateral materials: in-branch signage, T-shirts, ATM pop-ups and billboards-that were built around the image of the Groucho glasses.

"It was a combined effort from everyone," Willard said.

To view the winning photos:  

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