Young & Free, other programs tap into what's big with youth

CUNA News Now

MADISON, Wis. (12/5/11)--Credit unions are using creativity and the power of the electronic media to capture the imagination of Gen Y.

After about six months of operation, Young & Free Maine has begun to achieve results in the marketing of the free4ME checking, according to the Maine Credit Union League (Weekly Update Nov. 25). 

Young & Free is a spokester recruitment program, launched in 2007 by Currency Marketing, a credit union marketing company in Chilliwack, Canada. Young & Free provides the tools to engage the youth market, using a combination of social media and contests to find a young, media-savvy credit union spokesperson. To connect with younger consumers, credit unions that participate in the campaign are also urged to create price-sensitive products, such as free checking accounts with low or no fees. Several state leagues are promoting the program as well.

Seth Poplaski, Maine's spokester, has made 45 spokesperson appearances and attended 30 media events, using a Young & Free-branded Chevy Cruz to travel the state.
Maine credit unions have seen an 8.2% increase in membership of 18-25 year olds from September 2010 to September 2011, with the majority joining between April and September of this year, the first six months of Young & Free in the state.

With 22 credit unions reporting--56% of which offer free4Me checking--the Maine league has tracked 1,707 new checking accounts as of Sept. 30.

The Maine Young & Free Website has attracted 30,000 visitors.

In Missouri, Vantage CU cashed in on the popularity of the Twilight series by treating two young members and their guests to a midnight showing of the movie, "Breaking Dawn," the fourth in the series, Nov. 18. For a chance to win the premiere tickets, Vantage CU's Young & Free St. Louis spokester, Jenn Cloud, encouraged fans to go to the Young & Free St. Louis website and answer Twilight trivia questions.

Cloud met the two winners and their guests at a local theater to take their places in line for the midnight showing. She treated other waiting moviegoers to Young & Free bracelets, lip balm and cell-phone screen cleaners.

The Association of Vermont Credit Unions employed its Economy of Me program to help students better understand and manage their money. Project Manager Colin Ryan presented back to back assemblies for students of Winookski High School in November.

Local CBS affiliate WCAX was on hand to film Ryan's presentation in preparation for an upcoming appearance on the station's late afternoon news show, "The: 30."  Ryan used the opportunity to raise awareness about Economy Of Me and highlight what Vermont credit unions are doing to educate young people.

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