Star Power

Credit unions can stand out in a crowded marketplace by harnessing the power of different kinds of celebrities.


A catchy jingle or a flashy logo can help consumers remember a product. So can a distinct marketing campaign or a creative commercial. Celebrities have their own draw though.

Credit unions are beginning to use local personalities to create awareness of their brand and are having a good time in the process.

Erie General Electric Federal Credit Union ($239.7M, Erie, PA) enlisted a community newsmaker to up the profile of the credit union. Donnell Jordan makes appearances at local sporting events dressed as BubbaLuv, a fun-loving, dance-happy party guy. They made a commercial with Jordan and turned the relationship into an effective way to reach Gen Y. EGEFCU also had an impressive number of checking accounts opened after the promotion rolled out, and many of the new members were members of Gen Y.

Several other credit unions have gotten in on the idea too. GTE Federal Credit Union ($1.48B, Tampa, FL) capitalized on a monkey on the lam in its community and generated excellent PR and interest in the cooperative. Xceed Financial Credit Union ($718.2M, El Segundo, CA) created a super hero called Numbers Guy to raise its profile in the area. Both of these examples show how getting creative can yield easy chances to increase your cooperative’s visibility and create a face for your cooperative.

Celebrity doesn’t have to mean Kobe Bryant or Aaron Rodgers. In fact, sometimes a partnership with an A-lister can go awry. Remember the Kardashian-sponsored pre-paid debit card? It didn’t work out, and the plug was ultimately pulled.

Lesson: Every celebrity partnership has its potential pitfalls. Understand the totality of the relationship before you enter into it.

Celebrity relationships have significant potential for cooperatives. Like any partnership, they demand a full understanding of what the requirements will be. Done properly, they can enhance a cooperative’s visibility and attract members looking to find a long-term financial home.