What's In A Name? Opportunity, According To 1 Promo

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One credit union here has built a marketing campaign around the unique name of its mortgage lending manager.

The effort emerged out of a combination of necessity and whimsy as Proponent Federal Credit Union was seeking a new idea to advertise the restart of its mortgage lending program and reinvigorate its staff. Marketing Manager Bill Stavros said a third-party processor was taking too long with applications, and that volume had gone flat as members and staff lost faith in the credit union's program.

Looking to breathe life into its mortgage lending, Proponent FCU resolved the delays in loan processing and then hired Mint Advertising of Branchburg, N.J. to create a campaign. That, in turn, has led to a relaunch of the entire department using the name of Mortgage Lending Manager Keith Beith.

"It's definitely unique. Unique is my name," Beith said with a laugh. "My name sticks; ever since I was a little guy."

The agency focused on Beith's name and suggested using it as a way for members to get to know him and the new mortgage program. Ads asked "Do you know Keith Beith?," with five different components of the campaign all focused on who Keith Beith is and how big of a check he has for each member. Among those components:

* A nearly life-size cardboard cut out of Beith with a large question mark where his head should be located.

* An online Flash animation showing an animated Beith offering the use of an automatic mortgage calculator.

* Name tags for CU staff that would remind members to ask questions about loans.

* Direct mail inserts accompanied with Beith's business card showing the main phone number for the mortgage department.

* Statement inserts to supplement the other efforts.

The posters and cut out of Beith were placed in all branches to generate buzz about the revived mortgage program. Proponent FCU staff were hoping all the advertising pieces, especially the large cut out, would prompt members to ask about Keith Beith and subsequently, a new mortgage.

Stavros said he knew of the risk of using Beith as a brand unto himself, but the long-time loan manager was deemed a good risk of his own. Otherwise they would have "scoured the globe" looking for another loan manager with the same name, Stavros joked.

"Sometimes it's just the chance you have to take," he said.

It appears to be working out. During May, June and July, when Proponent FCU first ran the campaign and retooled its offerings, the CU saw a 112% increase in applications and a 105% increase in total dollar volume for first mortgages over the same period one year earlier.

Stavros said Proponent FCU spent $25,000 on the campaign and that it was a unique response to a unique situation. Members are now well aware of mortgage lending and CU employees can sell and promote a product they have faith in, he said. Stavros had high praise for credit union's now famous mortgage manager, Keith Beith. "He's a team player, obviously," Stavros said. "He's been a very popular guy I can tell you that."

Stavros said the campaign has been so successful that some employees didn't know that Keith Beith was an actual person who was in fact running the mortgage lending operation.

Stavros brought one employee into Beith's office for a quick introduction.

"That happens often," Beith said.

Beith said he's enjoyed the campaign, although he admitted it was odd walking through branch lobby and seeing a life-size cut out of himself.

The North Carolina branch called to report that the Keith Beith cut out had actually startled CU staff opening the offices in the morning. "It allows people to have fun. People have gotten a charge out of it, it's been pretty successful."

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