Attract Millennials With A Power[puff] Brand

Linn Area Credit Union kept it real even when employees donned costumes for the cooperative’s sponsorship of a local comic book convention.


Linn Area Credit Union
Data as of 12.31.16

HQ: Cedar Rapids, IA
ASSETS: $412.5M
12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 20.5%
ROA: 0.67%

In the fourth quarter of 2016, Linn Area Credit Union ($412.5M, Cedar Rapids, IA) posted year-over-year member growth of 1.8%. That’s lower than both state and peer averages, but otherwise the credit union is growing fast faster than a speeding bullet, perhaps.

Year-over-year share and loan growth at the community chartered credit union was 11.4% and 20.5%, respectively. Both were greater than state and peer averages. Notably, this growth largely occurred within Linn Area’s current membership. It posted 13.8% YOY growth in average member relationships compared with 8.4% for Iowa credit unions and 4.4% for credit unions between $250 million and $500 million in assets.

To help push its member growth into the realm of its share, loan, and relationship growth, Linn Area stepped into event sponsorship with its participation in the annual Cedar Rapids Comic Conin February 2017.

Click through the tabs to see images and collateral from the credit union’s involvement in the Cedar Rapids Comic Con.


Gandy (as Professor X) and his team (as Powerpuff Girls) weren’t shy about taking pictures with those who asked.


Thanks to its giveaways and drawings, Linn Area’s booth was a popular place to be.


Linn Area gave away posters featuring original artwork by well-known comic book artist Phil Hester.


Equal parts exciting and terrifying: Phil Hester’s custom posters were a hit with comic con attendees.

Not All Cosplay And Comic Books

As the largest sponsor of the Cedar Rapids Comic Con which attracted attracted more than 10,000 people in 2017 Linn Area earned Hero Sponsor status and a booth at the entrance to the event. The placement maximized the credit union’s brand exposure among the event’s young attendees.

Our intention with Comic Con was to prospect 19 to 34 year olds, says Curt Gandy, the credit union’s vice president of marketing. We wanted to let them know our brand personality is fun, hip, and outgoing.

Click here to see Linn Area’s illustrated postcards which included a $50 coupon to open a new checking account.

Gandy hired well-known comics artist Phil Hester to draw a custom poster on behalf of Linn Area. It then printed and distributed 2,500 of those posters at the event. The credit union also included prospecting materials and comic book-themed swag at each of its three tables and handed out illustrated postcards with a $50 coupon to open a new checking account with direct deposit or e-statements.

We had hundreds of people want to take pictures of us as the Powerpuff team, Gandy says. It was exhausting but turned out to be pretty neat.

Curt Gandy, Vice President of Marketing, Linn Area Credit Union

Finally, Linn Area held a giveaway for three iPad minis that required little information of the 101 entrants simply name, age, and email and sent them the $50 coupon, too.

But, this was a comic con, and Linn Area wanted to do it right. Hence, cosplay. Gandy and three other representatives from the marketing department channeled the late 1990s and early 2000s with Powerpuff Girls-themed costumes.

We had hundreds of people want to take pictures of us as the Powerpuff team, Gandy says. It was exhausting but turned out to be pretty neat.

Results Thus Far

Going into the event, the credit union’s goals were to engage with young people and attract them to the credit union. To date, Linn Area has opened four new checking accounts under the comic con promo code.

I’d love to give it an A,’ but until we get more prospects signed up for membership it’s hard to give it any better than a strong B,’ Gandy says.

The marketing vice president expects more memberships to trickle in across the year and hopes for more than 20.

As far as best practices for event sponsorship, Gandy offers a two.

First, the credit union should have offered bags. Attendees were buying comic-themed goods and, unless they thought ahead, had to carry their purchases in their arms. Passing out Linn Area Credit Union bags to 10,000 would have extended the credit union’s branding throughout the event as well as given potential members something to remember them by in the future.

That was something we should have had, Gandy says.

Second, comic con is a long day. Gandy and his team put in 10 hours that day alone. And because they were in cosplay and taking pictures with attendees, they didn’t work the booth as much as they wanted. Next time, the credit union will bring more staff and establish shifts to give workers both booth time and time to walk around the event and interact with attendees.

Having more opportunities to get out of the booth and interact would be something we could do better, Gandy says.

April 25, 2017

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