Why 1 CU Is Embracing A Little Monkey Business

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TAMPA, Fla.-GTE FCU is hoping is efforts to capitalize on a local icon will generate some real monkey business. The $1.6 billion credit union launched its "Mystery Monkey Tour" based on a rhesus monkey that has achieved cult status in southwest Florida as it has roamed around the area for the last year, narrowly avoiding capture multiple times.

"Every few weeks it appears in somebody's backyard, appears in a park or runs up a condo building," said GTE SVP of Marketing Doug Richardson. "They've shot tranquilizer darts at him and he shakes it off and heads off into the woods. It's taken on a total life of its own."

The tour challenges residents to figure out four of the monkey's favorite hangouts.

Over the next few weeks, the monkey's Facebook fan page, which has over 79,000 friends, will post a clue and a blurry picture that will aid in figuring out each location. Fans will have to become friends with GTE's Facebook page to see a clear picture of the site. The first person to figure out all four locations will receive $1,500.

GTE has long emphasized outreach to a younger audience with its U-22 program, multiple community partnerships and a major partnership with the Tampa Bay Rays. Though most of this promotion will be run through the web, Richardson is hopeful that grandchildren and their grandparents will both be attracted by its quirkiness.

"We had good luck last year with youth marketing the social media space but we didn't do much to the broader audience," he noted.

The CU is also looking to bring in deposits and start relationships as new members will receive their choice of "mystery monkey" t-shirts. GTE is paying for the shirts, which are produced by the Suncoast Primate Center, a facility that cares for sick, injured and elderly primates from across the country. If no one wins the prize money, it will be donated to the center and the CU plans to make some kind of donation even if there is a winner.

Traditional television advertisements in the Tampa market during programs such as American Idol run about $16,000 for every 30-second spot; this campaign should cost a fraction of that and may reach just as many individuals. Richardson pointed out that about 80% of the monkey's Facebook fans are local, while some, like celebrities Jay Leno and Stephen Colbert, could provide additional free publicity. The credit union is paying the Facebook fan page's administrator a nominal fee to be part of the campaign, but those costs are already paying off.

"We put out the first clue [last] Monday night and ended up with 57 new Facebook fans" in just 12 hours, Richardson said. The CU also picked up more than 900 Facebook pageviews; 50 people registered to take the monkey tour, 15 people made a guess of the location and one person logged a correct response in that short overnight window.

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