8 Halting the Widening of theWealth Gap
Filene’s Adam Lee and AACUCCEO Renée Sattiewhite discusshow CUs can help minoritiesduring the downturn.
6 How Crises RedefineServing the Underserved
Learn how an Oregon CUis reaching out to help localHispanics.
10 Adapting to a ShiftingMember Demographic
Coopera’s Kenia Calderon Cerondetails why CUs must adjust theirmarketing strategies.
11 Using Data to Understandthe Underserved
The founders of Clear Coreexplain how data can help CUspinpoint member engagementopportunities.
12 Engaging With theUnbanked
Leverage education andpartnerships to better servelow-income members, Dovly’sNirit Rubenstein recommends.
14 Navigating the Contractual‘Boilerplate’
Preventive law expert ChrisKeefer advises CUs on decodingforce majeure language in thewake of COVID- 19.
Editor’s Column ...................4In Brief ............................... 5Focus Report.................... 6-12Guest Opinion ................... 14Community News............... 15People .............................. 19DepartmentsEDITOR'S COLUMN
Brand Marketers Face the Test of a Lifetime
or many of us, more
time at home has meant
more time in front of the
TV, and the privilege of
witnessing the first wave of pan-
demic-era commercials. These
past two months, they have fallen
into one of two categories – before
COVID- 19, when it was normal to
crowd a ton of people into a room
to shoot a beer commercial, and
after, when producers had to be-
gin leveraging stock footage and
voiceovers to create spots that
acknowledge the current crisis
in some way. The people behind
major brands no doubt felt pres-
sure to rethink their campaigns
fast, because it didn’t take long
for the pre-COVID commercials,
which may show the no-longer-
acceptable handshake greeting,
for example, to become irrelevant
or even offensive in viewers’ eyes.
The first pandemic-era commercials to hit cable channels inmy region were from car manufacturers and fast food chains.The message to consumers wassimple: We’re making it easy foryou to keep doing business withus without coming into contactwith people and therefore putting yourself at risk of catching thevirus. Although a more realisticthought behind them might be:This is going to be the worst yearof sales in our company’s history,and we’re freaking out. So please,please spend some money to helpsave us, even though you’re probably unemployed.
As more and more of these adsbegan to air, it became harder toboth tell them apart and figureout the connection between eachcommercial and the brand behindit. You may have seen the “EveryCovid- 19 Commercial is Exactlythe Same” video montage onYou Tube, which calls out the adsfor following the exact same formula: Somber music followed byreminders of how many years thecompany has been in business,that “people” and “family” aretheir priority, that they’re “herefor you” during these “uncertaintimes” because you can still dobusiness with them from home orwith minimal contact, and a declaration that “we’re all in this together.” Many end with a sped upversion of the somber intro musicand/or applause from city balco-nies and rooftops.
The viral montage includedtwo credit unions – Interior Federal Credit Union of Washington,D.C., and SDCCU of San Diego.
Interior’s commercial featured
black and white stock images of
happy families at home, set to a
voiceover script that checked all
the formula’s boxes, plus informed
viewers about the safety of their
deposits, remote banking options
and financial relief programs. The
only major difference between
that and SDCCU’s commercial
was the use of color stock videos of
SDCCU employees at past events
(although the California credit
union did follow up with a second
COVID- 19 commercial a month
later praising the “heroes” of the
crisis and showing recent video
of employees donning face masks
and waving from their offices).
Brand marketers know thatduring a crisis, the worst responseis no response, so pushing outa COVID- 19 campaign, period,was their priority, even if it scoredlow on the uniqueness scale. Andmost of the COVID-19-era advertisers have been smart enough notto push sales during this touchytime period – even though allof them are effectively “selling”by simply attaching their brandname to a message they believeconsumers want to hear.
But still, are the commercials
overkill? In the household I’ve
been quarantined in for the past
two months, a typical reaction
to one of these TV ads airing yet
again is an irritated “Oh, come
on!” followed by a scramble for
the TV remote to hit the mute
button. Our thought is, we’re
already thinking about the CO-
VID- 19 pandemic and how it’s
people across the screen – and
it looked bad. For those that did
communicate their response to
the crisis with members immedi-
ately, the right words may not have
come easily. This crisis is unlike
anything anyone has faced before,
and it has put crisis communica-
tions plans and skills to the test for
all professionals who are tasked
with protecting a brand.
Credit unions need to keepmembers informed about the financial services available to themduring this time period, but just asit’s taking time to adjust to life during a pandemic, it will take time tofigure out how to craft the rightmessages that will resonate withpeople at the right time, as well ascreate campaigns that stand outfrom those of their peers.
All marketers have been sud-
denly challenged with targeting
an audience that is dealing with
collective loss and grief, and they
might consider taking advice
commonly given to people unsure
of what to say to a friend who has
suffered a major loss: Let them
know you’re there, that you’re
available to listen and help with
practical things that will make
their life easier, and then back
off. Some will be tempted to say
a lot more, and if they do, they
shouldn’t be surprised if their au-
dience hits the mute button. n
affected our lives all day, every
day, so please stop throwing it
in our faces. Besides, doesn’t the
phrase “We’re here for you” sound
a little strange coming from some
of these brands? Chik-fil-A claims
to be “here for me” now, but they
sure weren’t that one time I was
in a mall food court and felt like
ordering one of their sandwiches,
then realized it was Sunday.
The winners of COVID-19-eracommercials were the businessesthat conveyed supporting theircommunities through the pandemic is more important to themthan selling their products andservices during the worst economic downturn in over a decade.Uber, for instance, thanked viewers for not using its ride-sharingservices, and others have focusedon promoting good deeds likesupporting health care workersand producing hand sanitizer.While this strategy won’t make upfor the crippling loss of businessmany of them might suffer, theyprobably figure the reputationalboost will lead to future sales.
As it was for all marketers, acting fast was key for credit unionmarketers in the early days of thecoronavirus crisis. While researching how credit unions were adjusting their branch services in lateMarch, the CU Times staff founda number of credit unions withno mention of the crisis on theirwebsite’s home page – some continued to flash old campaigns featuring images of smiling, oblivious
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