Part I

CU Offers Cure for ‘Bankitis’

Program offers healthy alternative to banks’ sickly consumer practices.

November 18, 2011

Andre Iervolino noticed a strange affliction affecting many bank customers in the Denver area. Symptoms included nausea over impersonal service, aversion to high rates and fees, and disgust with government bailouts.

The diagnosis wasn’t pretty: Bankitis.

Fortunately, a cure was readily available: Public Service Credit Union.

The $1 billion asset credit union created the Bankitis campaign early in 2011 to attract Gen Y members (those born in the mid-1980s and later) fed up with banks’ sickly consumer practices.

“When we put ‘bank’ and ‘itis’ together, a new disease was born,” explains Iervolino, Public Service’s market research/Gen Y initiatives manager. “We are the cure to that disease.”

He says the credit union implemented a plan to reach Gen Y comprised of seven strategies.

“One of these strategies is to increase and enhance communications to the Gen Y audience,” Iervolino explains. “We asked ourselves how we could position Public Service Credit Union in a relevant way in front of Gen Yers. We realized we needed to create something that was free, resourceful, entertaining, and interactive.”

Iervolino tells Credit Union Magazine how the campaign is working.

CU Mag: What do you hope to achieve with Bankitis?

Iervolino: With the Bankitis campaign, its spokesperson, Dr. Penny, and the microsite, we hope to increase our acquisition of new Gen Y members.

We also hope to increase our current Gen Y member participation as well as increase traffic, followers, and meaningful interactions across the entire social media spectrum.

CU Mag: How has the response been?

Iervolino: generated close to 4,000 page views in the first 30 days, and we expect this to grow as we continue to promote it. The response has been very positive. People have noticed the fresh look of the site and the multitude of resources it provides.

CU Mag: How much new business can you attribute to

Iervolino: We have seen an increase in membership of 0.6% since the launch of the campaign and expect to see this number grow.

CU Mag: What effect did Bank Transfer Day have on your Bankitis campaign and on traffic to

Iervolino: We created specific blog and vlog entries to be posted on for Bank Transfer Day. We also came up with a contest where people submitted their Bank Transfer Day story. The winner received a $50 Visa gift card.

We used our website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and college campus events as the primary means of communication for the Bank Transfer Day message.

Traffic to increased over 1,000% on Nov. 5, Bank Transfer Day, compared to the previous Saturday.

CU Mag: How will the site evolve in the future?

Iervolino: We want to become the “hub” for anything related to the world of finances for Gen Y in the markets we serve. In the future, we hope to add a forum and create a community of contributors that generate free and valuable content.

CU Mag: How do you keep this campaign fresh?

Iervolino: By generating fresh and interesting content for We review the site design and functionality periodically, engage with our subscribers and followers, identify original and fun tactics, and keep pace with original and creative ways to use new marketing tools in the digital environment.

For example, we asked all of our staff to wear shirts with a QR code on the back to promote the campaign and One of our executives was actually chased by two girls trying to scan the back of his shirt.

CU Mag: Who at the CU is involved in this campaign?

Iervolino: The people involved include our Gen Y engagement specialist, Tia Anderson—a.k.a. Dr. Penny. She’s responsible for engaging with Gen Y on college campuses and through social media.

Dr. Penny is the Bankitis spokesperson. She’s the go-to person when it comes to communicating with Gen Y.

My primary responsibility is to make sure our vision, strategies, and tactics are aligned with the credit union’s objectives, and to track and analyze our performance.

Our marketing and public relations departments have helped us with the logistics and production of some of the marketing collateral, and we have several employee contributors to

All staff have been wearing shirts and giving away Bankitis information cards to current and potential members.

Check back for Part II on Monday: Gen Y: ‘Go Where They Are’