When brainstorming over the winter about potential mascots to promote First Arkansas Bank & Trust's children's savings program, the bank's marketing team considered the usual suspects: superheroes, Barney, cartoon characters and the like. The problem, the team realized, is that kids quickly outgrow make-believe characters, and if the bank wanted to keep the youngsters as customers through their teen years and beyond, it would need a mascot with more staying power.
Then someone suggested a dog — a real one. In short order, the marketing staff visited an animal rescue shelter in the bank's hometown of Jacksonville, where the workers found, and quickly adopted, a female golden retriever named Sheila. "It just clicked," says Roger Sundermeier, the bank's marketing chief. "[Sheila] was the one that we wanted to have."