Many fans found it easy to root for the Detroit Lions to beat the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs in the NFL’s 2023 season opener.
Owners of a One Pride Certificate of Deposit (CD) account with $1.6 billion asset Community Financial Credit Union in Plymouth, Mich., about 30 miles from Detroit’s Ford Field, were incentivized to cheer a little harder. They had some prospective money on the line, as the annual percentage yield (APY) of their CD increases by 0.25% each time the Lions score the first touchdown of a game this season.
So when Amon-Ra St. Brown crossed the goal line in the first quarter of Detroit’s Sept. 7 win at Kansas City, enrolled members saw their One Pride CD rate increase from the initial 2% APY to 2.25%.
“To our knowledge, there's never been a product like this tying a savings tool to a sports outcome,” says Community Financial Vice President of Insights, Innovation, and Impact Blake Woods, the creator of the One Pride CD. “Like many credit unions, we're looking for deposits right now. The response internally was, ‘We love this. How do we get this to market in time?’ It was supported from day one and I think it's opened some doors for us in terms of other ways to gamify our products and make them more interesting.”
The 12-month term CD is available for deposits starting at $100, with members receiving the increased rates for every game played after they open their account. If the Lions had scored the first touchdown of every game on the way to the Super Bowl, the One Pride CD accounts would have had a 7% APY.
Instead, the Lions have scored the first touchdown in six of their nine games, raising the rate to 3.5% heading into Sunday’s home game against Chicago.
The partnership with the Lions also includes scoreboard space, Community Financial merch shooting from t-shirt cannons, and a Pride Plaza tailgate at Ford Field, at which fans can submit their “impossible dreams” and have a chance at making them real. The One Pride CD also brings interest to both sides of the partnership, as well as a financial education piece.
“Our transaction data showed $11 million over a one-year period going out to sportsbooks and casinos,” Woods says, noting sports betting has been legal in Michigan since 2019. “There are all sorts of negative outcomes that come from gambling. We think this is a safe alternative. It still gives people the ability to back their team, but they're only going to make money.
"Casinos are using promotions and creativity to gamify and make things fun, so we need to do the same," he continues. "Even if the Lions lost every single game this year, no member would lose a dollar in this account. In fact, every member would make money with that base rate.”
With the transaction data in hand, Community Financial identified members who might be interested in a sports-related CD. That became the target market.
The credit union launched the product over Labor Day weekend, with 58 members opening an account and depositing a total of $82,000 before the Lions’ first game. The initial rate bump led to an additional $121,900 in balances, rising to a total of 93 accounts and $202,000 in balances.
Deposits have continued coming in, as consumers who missed the first rate jumps can still open a 2% APY CD.
“We’re pleased to see members continue to open these accounts as this epic season has progressed. They are eager to support our home team and show their Lions pride," Woods says. “Whatever dollars we end up bringing in from this, the buzz we've created locally is getting people to look at us. This is a way for us to stand out and appeal to a different segment of people.”