2008-09 CPRC Campaign
Division A
Category 7 Marketing/Promotional
SalterMitchell and FCCU – weLiveFIT! Challenge Campaign

Research/Situation Analysis: By the end of 2008, there was no question that America was in a recession. The collapse of the housing market, the rise in foreclosures, the failure of major financial institutions, and the declines in consumer wealth gripped our country and impacted nearly every household. In Florida, state economists predicted the recession would linger through 2009. Florida Commerce Credit Union (FCCU) is the largest credit union in North Florida with seven branches and more than 35,000 members (household & business) in the Tallahassee area. FCCU wanted to retain and recruit members by differentiating itself from other financial institutions and establishing itself as a “full-service financial solution” for local families. After conducting exploratory research (personal contacts/on-line sources/content analysis) of best practices in its industry, FCCU chose a contest model to base its newly created iLiveFIT! program (ILF). ILF provides members with a free personal financial assessment, a trained financial coach, and a comprehensive action plan with steps to become FIT - Financially Independent Today. In the contest, seven local families would use the ILF resources to improve their personal finances over a designated period of time. The most successful family would win $10,000. In November 2008, SalterMitchell (SM) was brought on board to develop and implement a 13-month public relations campaign to promote the contest. FCCU revealed that paid advertising of their programs didn’t always translate into new members, so they were very open to new strategies to promote the contest. SM suggested a voyeuristic approach that would engage the community in the lives of contest participants receiving help in a gloomy economy. 

Objectives: 1) Secure 100 applicants by January 31, 2009. 2) Utilize press events and online media platforms to drive sustained traffic to a contest website, securing at least 10,000 visitors over the course of the campaign. 3) Increase FCCU household memberships by 20-percent. 4) Generate at least 12 media clips during the challenge.

Implementation: Since the economy was expected to remain flat through 2009, we recommended branding the contest as the weLiveFIT! Challenge (WLF) to position FCCU as a leading financial institution committed to helping the entire community improve financially. We then used a behavior change methodology to create campaign messages promoting the three actions that can help consumers improve their finances – save money, reduce debt and improve your credit score. Our biggest challenge was keeping the community engaged and aware of the WLF Challenge for 10-months. SM didn’t want a commercial feel. We wanted a campaign that would entertain and educate, while attracting fans who would pick their favorite WLF contestants and cheer them to victory. The strategy - tap into the country’s obsession with reality TV and the popularity of digital media. We created a web-based reality series that allowed the community to follow the families online as they tackled their financial challenges and utilized FCCU resources to get on a better footing. A new 15 minute “webisode” posted on the WLF website each month engaged the community with real people, talking about real money problems and solutions. To keep traffic coming back between each new webisode, the families blogged about their finances and used video cameras to upload personal moments such as their frugal vacations or shopping struggles. Visitors also had access to free WLF tools such as budget worksheets and an expense tracker to improve their own finances. Special events and earned media were key to promoting the campaign and WLF website. To get applicants, SM launched the campaign with a January 2009 press conference featuring the mayor of Tallahassee and a stack of 10,000 one dollar bills in front of City Hall. The mayor endorsed the contest as an educational tool for the community, and the stack of bills enticed applicants and attracted media. Combined with radio and print ads, the kickoff generated 118 applications by the January 31st deadline. FCCU and SM then chose the seven diverse WLF families willing to publicly expose their financial struggles. All had racked up a lot of debt – one family had $69,000 in outstanding bills and another contestant lived exclusively on credit cards; most had little to no savings and poor credit scores. The families were introduced to the community at a March press conference where they revealed their financial challenges. Throughout the campaign, SM worked with FCCU to schedule contestant appearances at community events such as baseball games, consumer seminars and business workshops so they could generate more fans. After the first airing in March, we expanded the reach of the WLF webisodes with postings on YouTube and Vimeo as well as arranging special viewings at community events like an annual film festival with 3,000 attendees. The families were also featured on billboards, radio and TV ads to establish them as local reality show celebrities -- and it worked. Halfway into the challenge, our announcement of the three leading contestants at a local Sam’s Club attracted media and nearly 100 fans. The following week, the WLF website received 2,000 visitors! At the final event in January 2010, FCCU revealed the $10,000 grand prize winner – a single mother of three who reduced her debt by $4,500, increased her savings by $30,000 and boosted her credit score from 662 to 758.

Evaluation: 1) 118 applicants, 18 above goal. 2) Website traffic was more than 100-percent over goal with 21,824 WLF website visitors during the contest period, 95,517 page views, and close to 200 hits the day a new webisode posted. Four press events engaged the community and spiked website traffic.  3) FCCU’s household members increased from 25,000 to 32,000. The 28-percent increase was 8-percent over goal. 4) SM more than doubled our goal by generating 28 media clips.

Budget: PR campaign $60,000; Paid ads $53,654; Web design $2,500; Creative $14,800; Production of 10 webisodes $73,800.  Campaign total = $204, 754, representing a cost of $29.25 per new FCCU household member.