Putting Our Research Into Action

Now that we had a new logo and color theme, brand standards could be established company-wide. Signage, posters, collateral materials and advertisements all carried the new livery which also seemed to be popular with the staff.

Next came the Website. An easier-to-navigate structure was created to highlight the most popular service offerings (just like a bank’s Website) and the new logo and color scheme were featured prominently.

Television Advertising

We knew from our research that our target market expected our brand to be on television. So we began designing a coordinated marketing campaign that featured print, digital and television. Bob had told me that Charlotte Metro had done TV before but with little signs of success. I reviewed some of those old ads and they were not very compelling. Shot testimonial style with a single camera, on-camera lighting and weak calls to action, their weak performance was understandable. We thought we could see better results if we put some higher production standards around a solid script and a thoughtful call to action.

I asked about the concept of using a celebrity endorser to introduce the Credit Union. Bob liked the idea and said he’d always thought Muggsy Bogues would be a good fit. Bogues was a member of the original Charlotte Hornets who had taken the region by storm with their designer teal and purple uniforms. At 5’ 3” Muggsy’s stellar play made him a statistical outlier in a league where the average height is 6’7”. He was well-respected and well-liked.

Through an existing relationship with The Charlotte Bobcats (the new NBA team in Charlotte), we were able to get access to Muggsy for a series of commercials. The first one was written and produced by a local agency. It was well produced and well received. But while writing and finalizing the script for a new spot with Coach Sam Vincent and rookie Jared Dudley of the Bobcats, I got the idea to do a CGI effects spot with Muggsy introducing our new Website. Tony Elwood, an independent filmmaker and visual graphics wizard, quickly brought that idea to life. We called it Muggsy Web. And since the “Coach” spot (with the Bobcats’ Vincent and Dudley) required shooting inside the arena which took several weeks to schedule and complete, the Muggsy Web spot was completed first, meaning the two spots could be ready for airing together.

Super Media Placement

While reviewing media options with my media buyer, we had a casual conversation about the possibility of airing these two spots in the upcoming Super Bowl. Although national spot placement was costing millions of dollars, regional affiliates were receiving inventory that would air only locally with lower price tags. It would be expensive, I thought, but I liked the idea of giving good exposure to the two very important value propositions these spots carried: Coach would focus on the fact that Charlotte Metro had the banking services you’d expect and that anyone could join, while Muggsy Web introduced the new, banking feature-rich Website.I presented it to Bob and he agreed. And in the next Super Bowl, the Charlotte Market saw Charlotte Metro, a local brand, advertised alongside well-recognized national brands in the biggest TV media event of the year.

Before and after the game our phones rang off the hooks. Reporters who had been tipped as to our plan wanted to know the hows and the whys and the wheres related to our advertising campaign, which was fine with me since that was an opportunity to get our story in the press. And after the game, just about anyone who knew our brand called to say they had seen it.

We followed up this introduction with a carefully designed ad placement program that focused on our target demographic—women aged 25 to 45—and took advantage of high-value TV scheduling that featured smartly watched programs. But by the following summer we were focused on growing membership and we wanted to be a bit more focused and direct on our message. We had to boldly state to the consumer why she would be better served at Charlotte Metro than at the bank. I went to our call center and began polling the staff on why people were switching. The answer was clear: fees.

I began to develop a value proposition by drawing a comparison between the myriad service fees charged by the banks and Charlotte Metro’s comparatively simple fee structure. It was clear that a consumer could pay more money in fees banking with a bank, so I personified the banks as “fee pigs” having to be fed by the consumer. I drew up a script and went back to filmmaker Tony Elwood to make it happen. According to Tony, pigs were completely untrainable and using animatronic stand-ins would work just as well or better. He was right. The 30-second spot Fee Pig was delightful and kicked off our second campaign with an appearance in the following Super Bowl.

Next I created branch posters and Web elements to complement the Fee Pig spots and the reception was positive, externally and internally. The provocative campaign not only gave the staff a laugh, it also gave a sense of daring identity to a brand they could be proud of. And the timing couldn’t have been better; just as the Fee Pig campaign was launched, the Country entered the great recession. So people were looking for value and savings just as were were marketing value and savings.

As we approached another rebuild of the Website, we decided to do another celebrity endorsement-style spot to introduce the re-launch. Jake Delhomme was the quarterback for the Carolina Panthers. He was well-liked, scored well in our target demographic, and his subtle Cajun accent and good nature photographed well. This time I wrote a 60-second script to introduce the value proposition, clarify the membership requirements and demonstrate the ease of using the new Website. Again, this spot aired in a local slot of the next Super Bowl.