East River Bank is abandoning banking's usual staid image by using advertisements that it says more accurately reflect its customers entrepreneurial, creative and tattooed.
The Philadelphia company has recently launched a campaign that includes ads on billboards and transit shelters. The ads feature models dressed more casually than typically seen in bank marketing.
"We were trying to use who our customers are," says Christopher McGill, president and chief executive of the $248 million-asset bank. "We wanted to make it relate to the everyday person in Philadelphia. We are not chasing that Fortune 500 company. Instead we are chasing that small tech company located above the beauty salon."
In one ad, a young man is wearing a leather jacket and a knit hat, standing with his arms crossed. Another features an interracial family with a child hoisted on the mother's shoulders. The third ad features a dark-haired woman with tattoos covering her entire left arm.
These images reflect the "family, live, work" aspects of East River-'s customers, McGill says. Typically a bank ad might feature businessmen signing paperwork or sitting in on a formal meeting, McGill says. Instead this campaign "is a bit more edgy" and has gotten positive feedback so far, he says.
The campaign reflects the transition that the city of Philadelphia has been undergoing in recent years. New condos and lofts have sprung up while young professionals and entrepreneurs are moving back into the city. This is a demographic that East River serves.
East River has been part of that recovery effort. It makes loans for renovating and rehabilitating housing. It has also provided volunteers and financial support to community causes. East River emphasizes those connections with the tagline "Bank Local" in the ads.
"We believe relationships are key," McGill says. "Everything else is just tools that make that as seamless as possible for our customers to interact with us."