It's not often a bank with $8 billion in deposits focuses an ad campaign on its online and mobile security features. But when 40 percent of that bank's growth over the past two years has come from adults aged 24 and younger, telling a technology story like this makes a great deal of sense. It's also a solid way to attract more young, technologically advanced consumers, says Jacob Jegher, a senior analyst with Boston-based consultant Celent.

Since 1980, FirstBank, based out of Lakewood, CO, has risen from the eighth largest bank in Colorado in terms of deposits to second, behind only national powerhouse Wells Fargo, says David Baker, FirstBank Holding Company's COO. Privately held FirstBank has 126 locations, 118 of which are in Colorado.

When the bank, which also uses the brand 1stBank, decided to build on its success with twenty-somethings, it turned to Boulder, CO-based TDA Advertising & Design. "We think the work done by TDA has been excellent," Baker says. "They've really come up with a number of creative ways to grab attention and be thought provoking."

TDA has produced some clever ads to be sure. The multi-themed campaign runs the gambit: online, TV, print, billboards, and even some guerrilla marketing. The reason the ads are effective is because they do a good job capturing young people's attention, Baker says.

The television ads are funny, odd and memorable. The most notable is the one called "Identity Protection." In the ad, two twenty-something males are standing next to each other in a coffee shop. One says, "Uh oh, looks like we're wearing the same shirt." Just as he finishes the sentence a man in a suit cheerfully walks up to the man and rips off the patron's shirt, exposing his bare chest. The other twenty-something says, "Sorry about that. He's with my bank."

Then a lady behind the counter says, "I have a triple, no-whip, skinny mocha, and another triple, no-whip, skinny mocha." The man in the suit walks back up to the shirtless male and knocks his drink out of his hand. The FirstBank customer and representative leave the store, leaving behind the shirtless man with a confused look on his face; the slogan, "We're here to protect your identity," pops up onto the screen with the "1STBANK" logo.

The wide-ranging print and billboard ads really grab one's attention, as well. One set of ads shows a $5, $20 or $100 bill, with the face blurred out, covered up or jumbled together. Another has a picture of a picnic area with an odd message: ******, * *** **** ***** **** **.

While some would argue that the ads don't explain what they are selling, Baker says that's the point-to provoke interest and thought. "When you're driving down the road and you see [the bill's face] is jumbled, you don't figure it out right away, but it catches your interest," he says. "The next time you drive by you are going to notice a little bit more."

The ad campaign also has a guerrilla-marketing component intended to advertise the availability of mobile banking, without as much emphasis on security. The bank plastered stickers of pneumatic tubes on light posts to make the entire post resemble the pneumatic tubes used at some bank drive-throughs.

There is no better time for a mid-tier bank to push to capture marketshare, Jegher says. Many of the mid-tiers that he's talked to have "grown like mad" as people spread around their deposits to make sure they are covered by FDIC insurance. "If they see the potential for deposits to grow given that customers are spreading their wealth, why not take advantage and advertise the fact that we've made this investment in security," he says.

The ads will run at least through the end of the year throughout the bank's home state, in parts of California and in Phoenix, a targeted growth area for the bank.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.