Happy early April Fools' Day. As an editorial staff, this is one of our favorite days. We let our hair down, have a little fun. And this year is no different.
It started a year or two ago. I pitched an idea for an article to be published in Credit Union Strategy & Performance. I was new to my job here, didn’t know much about the industry or its geography. I came across Yolo Federal Credit Union ($242.0M, Woodland, CA) and had a good little laugh. You see, there’s a song by the rapper Drake (called “The Motto”) that features the term YOLO in the chorus. The song was pretty big for a while, and I immediately associated the credit union with the rapper.
Which led to a brainstorm: credit unions often have creative names. Credit unions also market their products and services to current and potential members. If Yolo FCU made me think of Drake, what other fictional — and totally fun — potential spokespersons/things could I associate with other institutions?
What follows is a list of eight credit unions and their ideal celebrity spokesperson. I mostly generated this list by gut feel and weird association, and I tried to avoid some of the more obvious ones. That means sorry Hercules Credit Union ($62.5M, Salt Lake City, UT), we all know Disney’s animated version of the Greek hero is ideal; no one needs me explaining why.
Now, on to the list!
Library Of Congress Federal Credit Union — Thomas Jefferson
This list will likely expose my interest in history, but this is a spokesperson relationship that needs to happen. Library of Congress ($224.2M, Washington, DC) is located in our nation’s capital, not far from the Callahan offices. The credit union was chartered in 1935 by 12 Library of Congress employees and continues to serve that employer group to this day.
In 1814, the British burned the Library of Congress and many of the volumes therein. Jefferson was a tremendous reader and collector of books and sold more than 6,000 books to the library for nearly $24,000 to replenish what was lost.
Brand ambassador Thomas Jefferson.
Hamilton Federal Credit Union — Lin-Manuel Miranda
Let me get my historical spokespeople pairings out of the way. The California-based credit union ($22.3M, Novato, CA) shares the name with a famous founding father, one who has been in the news more frequently of recent.
Perhaps you’ve heard of the musical “Hamilton” that has taken Broadway (and U.S. pop culture) by storm. If you aren't familiar, you should be. “Hamilton” is a rap opera on the life of former founding father Alexander Hamilton, played by Miranda. Miranda’s celebrity stock is rising fast (at least that’s what I read) so it’s time now to lock him down as this credit union’s spokesperson while they still can.
Lin-Manuel Miranda as Alexander Hamilton.
Imperial Credit Union — Stormtrooper
Imperial Credit Union ($34.9K, Springfield, IL) may be small, but the potential Star Wars associations here are endless. In Star Wars, the Imperial Army was the land-based branch of the Galactic Empire’s military (but you knew that), and the Stormtroopers are the Empire’s elite shock troops and operated as one part — along with mechanized vehicles.
In 2015, Disney rebooted the Star Wars franchise for a new generation and there’s literally no better time to associate your brand with an entertainment franchise worth billions. It wouldn’t be cheap to get the rights to use these troops, but this is a fictional exercise and I say cost is no object.
What don't Stormtroopers know about great rates?
Jersey Shore Federal Credit Union — The Cast Of Jersey Shore
Okay, so maybe this one is a little obvious. But maybe not. Jersey Shore FCU ($145.8M, Northfield, NJ) shares its name with a popular reality show that ran on MTV from 2009-2012. I hated the show and most of the people on it, but it was undoubtedly popular and a large part of popular culture for a number of years.
Plus, millennials loved it. And that should be reason enough to make this relationship work, right?
The cast of "Jersey Shore."
Fellowship Credit Union — The Fellowship Of The Ring
If we remember our Middle-earth history, the Fellowship of the Ring was formed at Rivendell following the Council of Elrond and consisted of nine members, including favorites such as Frodo Baggins, Gandalf the Grey, Legolas, Gimli, and Aragorn. Yes, this is a reference to “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien, but it would also be a cool collection of sponsors for this Colorado-based credit union ($11.7M, Lamar, CO). Imagine the possibilities!
“One Rate To Rule Them All!”
Massachusetts Institute Of Technology Federal Credit Union — Will Hunting
Who is Will Hunting, you ask? Has it been so long since you’ve seen “Good Will Hunting,” the Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Robin Williams film from 1997? Will Hunting is a genius who works at a janitor at MIT and spends his free time getting into trouble with his buddies. You probably know the rest.
MIT is a great school with many notable alumni, and yes Will Hunting didn’t technically go to the school. But he was employed there for a time and would certainly qualify for membership. So forget spokesperson, Will Hunting could offer its credit union ($458.1M, Cambridge, MA) member testimonial! After he’s done seeing about his girl, that is.
Will Hunting in action.
Summit Credit Union — Sir Edmund Hillary
What’s the most famous summit on the planet Earth? There’s one answer, and it’s the peak of Mount Everest. In 1953, Englishman Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay became the first climbers to reach this venerable summit, leading Hillary to become one of the most famous people on the planet, and one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century, according to Time. He’s the kind of individual a credit union named Summit ($2.4B, Madison, WI) needs to be in business with.
One of the Earth's greatest explorers.
Nordstrom Federal Credit Union — Me
Yes this is self-serving, but hear me out. Nordstrom (the store) is run by a trio of brothers: Peter, Blake, and Erik, and they are certainly the individuals most associated with the brand. In fact, Nordstrom (the store) hardly ever advertises.
When I was in college, during my summer breaks I worked at my local Nordstrom in the stock room and, eventually, on the floor selling woman’s shoes. What’s more important, is that I got the job through the manager of the store and I pass a pretty good resemblance to Erik Nordstrom. For a time, managers and others on the staff thought I was a corporate spy. I’ll let you be the judge, but if Nordstrom Federal Credit Union ($49.9M, Seattle, WA) calls me up needing an Erik Nordstrom impersonator, I’m on the next flight.
The author and Nordstrom's CEO.