Drone Elevates CU’s Advertising Campaign

Aerial views of 121 Financial's branches provide a different perspective for TV commercials.

October 1, 2013

The pattern became as irritating as it was predictable: Not long after 121 Financial Credit Union recorded a local advertising spot, the branch manager featured in the commercial invariably would get promoted or take a job elsewhere, rendering the ad obsolete.

Cindy Breslin, vice president of marketing at the $429 million asset credit union in Jacksonville, Fla., expressed this frustration to longtime video associate Chris Fanning of 4th Dimension Studios.

He suggested an intriguing alternative: capturing viewers’ attention 121 Financial dronewith aerial footage of the branches shot by camera-equipped drones, which the licensed pilot has employed for several national ad campaigns and documentaries.

The unusual perspective, which makes branches appear more like tiny models than actual buildings as the drone swoops past, resonated instantly with Breslin.

“I like to be on the cutting edge, because that’s what people look for from a financial institution,” she explains. “This sort of shows that from a commercial standpoint. It’s not just a video trick. It’s useful, beneficial, and fun.”

The footage helps potential members identify the exact location of its branches through the credit union’s website, and leads off commercials that transition to testimonials from 121 Financial members inside the lobby.

The credit union individualized TV spots for several of its branches because it can target potential members geographically through its cable advertising deal.

The footage also has been valuable internally. Because 121 Financial has floating tellers, the training manager shows them extended clips to identify various branches. Previously, that task might’ve required a ride-along to the site.

“I’m still racking my brain for ways to use this stuff,” Breslin says.

Drones have been used increasingly for this purpose, but remain a bit mysterious—as Breslin was reminded during filming of a recent car sale at a 121 Financial branch. A member ran up to her and said of the drone, “It’s following me!”

“It generated a lot of excitement,” Breslin says. “We had people taking pictures and watching it. It’s so unusual still that you have to be careful not to stop traffic.”