Lisa Fay sometimes sees herself when she walks into a Stockyards Bank and Trust Co. branch.
A 5-foot, 5-inch cardboard cutout with Ms. Fay's picture has been circulating among the Louisville, Ky., bank's 11 branches since January. The purpose is to educate employees and inform customers about the bank's investment program.
"I wanted the customers to come in and say, 'Who's this? What's that all about?'" said the 35-year-old assistant vice president. "And of course, our employees would say, 'That's Lisa Fay, our financial adviser.'"
The traveling image of Ms. Fay complements a bank-sponsored program designed to encourage employees to refer potential investment customers. Though it's difficult to isolate the impact on sales, Ms. Fay said, she and the bank's other full-time investment representative have gotten more referrals in recent months. There were 60 in July, she said.
Stock Yards, which manages about $35 million of assets, uses Robert Thomas Securities, St. Petersburg, Fla., as its broker-dealer. The bank has $530 million of assets. According to some marketing executives, displaying a life-size replica, while common in other industries, is innovative for a bank.
"I think it's good simply from an awareness standpoint," said Peter E. Harvey, president and chief executive of IntelliDyn, a marketing and data base consulting firm in Westerville, Ohio. "You still have a large base of consumers that are unaware they can get investment advice and services at a bank."
Ms. Fay said the idea for the replica came from a continuing education conference last September run by Robert Thomas. "We thought it was a wonderful way to introduce the services. A fun way," she said. The cutout of Ms. Fay contains no markings. It is so lifelike, Ms. Fay said, that bank employees have seen customers talking to it. It is covered at night so no one mistakes it for a burglar. Even Ms. Fay was once startled by the figure, and jumped.
The display has also been the butt of practical jokes by employees. Once, it was placed in the men's bathroom. Another time, employees had planned to kidnap the figure and send a ransom note to the bank's chairman. Ms. Fay inadvertently foiled the plan by arriving at the branch to take the cutout to its next destination.
According to Ms. Fay, putting the replica in the bank gives employees more than a laugh. "It's very easy when you are doing your own job to forget about making referrals," she said. "This way for a couple weeks, I'm there face to face every day."
Response has been so favorable that Ms. Fay plans to recirculate the cutout to some branches. "It's been kind of embarrassing in a way," she said, "but everybody seems to be having a really good time with it."