KALAMAZOO, Mich. (11/20/14)--The '80s provided such pop culture icons as "The Dukes of Hazzard," the Sony Walkman, Pac-Man, and, of course, the mullet. Educational Community CU (ECCU) ventured that members were ready to see the humor in the unfortunate hairstyle choice of the past to drive a recent auto loan campaign.
|The humor of the mullet haircut, popular in the 1980s, drove the visual appeal of a recent auto loan campaign at Educational Community CU, Kalamazoo, Mich., with $414 million in assets. (Educational Community CU Photo)|
Ironically, the tip of the hat to the past was designed to attract Gen Y. "To appeal to a younger audience, we decided to depart from our traditional approach," said Christine Camp, marketing vice president of marketing at the $414 million-asset Kalamazoo, Mich.-based credit union. "We wanted something unique, not cliche and not focused on rate. Our goal was to create an eye-catching campaign that would cut through the clutter, and emphasize member benefits."
The gamble paid off for Educational Community CU, which disbursed more than $8.1 million in new and used vehicle loans during the 10-week promotion period. In all, 558 loans were made at a median rate of 2.99% APR, averaging $14,521 per loan.
Running March 18 to May 31, the campaign drove loan demand and exceeded ECCU's original loan goal by $1 million. "Perhaps even more important is the buzz it created, and how much fun members and staff had in relating to the visuals," Camp said.
Humorous memes brought the campaign to life and copy was targeted to those born between 1979 and 1999. "The originality of the art was deliberately outrageous," Camp said.
Captions with familiar white-block lettering plus galvanizing, comical photos were consistent with the design.
While an ad agency did assist initially, Educational Community CU eventually developed all of the memes internally. "We ultimately chose and purchased the photos on our own," Camp said. The brainstorming sessions were particularly dynamic. "Taking a completely different approach, we devised a scheme involving mullets, motorcycle grannies and sweat-band wearing travelers!"
Playful captions, such as "Don't Mullet Over," "Get a New Ride" and "Perk Up Buttercup," complemented the graphics. "Gen Y was our initial target for the promotion," Camp said. "But what we didn't anticipate was the successful spill over to other segments, including Gen X."
Of the 558 loans closed, 34% (191) were Gen Y and 28% (157) were Gen X.
To drive demand in the West Michigan market, Educational Community CU placed five billboards, which drew 900,000 views. The credit union also placed ads on three radio stations. Website banners, the quarterly newsletter, lobby displays, social media ads and member emails were also part of the mix.
"The memes were especially successful with social media and the groups we were targeting," Camp said.