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Inspiring Action Brand of the Week: Affinity Federal Credit Union

If you think of the credit unions as sleepy, dated, obsolete organizations, you are not like most people, because most people don’t think of credit unions at all.

So, when Affinity Federal Credit Union came to us a few years after the second-worst financial crisis in American history, we needed to find a way to get a lot more people to think about a credit union. And not only that, we needed to get them to contact that credit union and to make it their own.

Seven million people had lost their homes in the previous few years. Eight point eight million jobs had been lost as well. The trust in financial institutions plummeted by fifty percent, while trust in banks fell even more.

We did a strategic exploratory of all the key messages that might help Affinity Federal Credit Union achieve its goals, and we found one message that did that far better than any other.

Affinity Federal Credit Union isn’t a bank.

You can, however, get a checking account, business loan or credit card there. And people do need financial services.

Affinity had an inspiring idea above commercial intent. It had a not-for-profit public service mission that aimed to help people and small businesses help each other through community credit.

Affinity discovered what the people it serves aspire to be and do. Our planning team talked to credit union members and learned how motivated they are to not see themselves as the victims or enablers of Wall Street. Instead, they prided themselves on investing in their own community and in maintaining institution that had become so important to that community.

We had our line…

All the financial services of a bank, but 100% Fat Cat free.

Affinity took this inspiring idea and dramatized it through a small number of iconic actions.

First, we created commercials, which could have never, ever been done by any uptight bank. Our major character was a real fat cat behind a desk. The response was so tremendous that the spot ended up catapulting Affinity to a national story, and was featured on Spike TV’s Funniest Commercials of the Year — twice. And the campaign for a community credit union went viral on social networks, dramatically increasing the efficiency of the advertising. Yes, it was iconic.

Affinity Federal Credit Union – Fat Cats from DiMassimo Goldstein on Vimeo.

When it came time to showcase Affinity’s low checking fees, we knew we had to be dramatic. We brought elite athletes and fat cat banking customers into the same gym. Then, to demonstrate how commercial banks clobber their customers with enormous fees, we printed “ATM fees” and other fees on dodgeballs, blindfolded the customers and then let the athletes pelt them mercilessly. (Of course, our lawyers were present with ironclad releases and videotaped disclaimers.) It was literally an in-your-face advertisement, and it too went viral.

Affinity FCU Fee Ball :60 from DiMassimo Goldstein on Vimeo.

Affinity is using technology and system to shorten the cycle of test and optimization. The media that we run isn’t just reported by some bot. It’s seen and interacted with. We’re buying it only in transparent ways, eliminating the estimated 15-20% waste from inefficiency that most media planning/buying firms are passing along to their clients. It allows a modest and cost-effective investment to cause a dramatic uptick in both acquisition and brand value.

Through demonstrating the 10 Signs of an Inspiring Action Company, Affinity is changing behaviors and getting a new generation to open up accounts and form relationships with a credit union. People want to be a part of an organization that has their interests at heart.

That’s why Affinity Federal Credit Union is our Inspiring Action Brand of the Week, and we couldn’t be more proud to be its agency.