With Old Spice Influence, Banks Can “Smell” Better to Customers

  • Mary Wisniewski
  • July 13, 2012
  • 0

Banks can take a cue from the very successful Old Spice marketing campaign, and ahem, loosen up some in their marketing.

That was one message that surfaced yesterday from our conversation with Mercantile Bank of Michigan. In a move to appeal to a younger generation, the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based bank has been showing off its playful side, and we like where its marketing head is at.

Take Merc Mob, for example.

In recent months, MercBank launched Merc Mob, an effort that occurs once a month when its staff employees “mob” a local restaurant with local support for lunch.

“We want to support local restaurants that need a little more interaction,” David Tilley, creative media specialist, tells Bank Innovation. “We are a community bank and need to support it with financial means.”

Merc Mob has a digital social element, too, as the bank leaks its restaurant crashing plan through its Facebook account to elicit deeper engagement. To date, about 20 to 50 people have shown up to eat lunch from all areas of the company, Tilley says. The bank employs roughly 250 people from its seven branches in Michigan.

Merc Mob will run through the rest of the year and the bank has talked about doing mobs for different types of businesses, he says.

But MercBank caught our eyes for more than just that.

Take its video series campaign that stars Winston, a puppet, along with Tilley. Videos range from talking about how to use banking services to more personal videos such as showcasing employees that participate in charities.

“It’s kind of our way to engage with the community,” Tilley says. “You can be a trustworthy business that produces things that are fun.”

Plus, creating video also helps the bank to appeal to a younger generation. Tilley explains that a consumer may not click on a 3-minute video about a banking product but might find clicking on a puppet with a funny skit more palatable.

“Some episodes get off the wall. It’s just a fun way of selling our services” he says. “[Some] are very silly, but it’s a different way to do advertising.”

Beyond the Winston campaign, which recently ended, Tilley is dreaming up new ways to market through the video channel. “We’ve been doing a lot of research and people want to digest more information in video form,” he says.

Of the recent efforts Bank Innovation discussed, though, its two kiosks dazzled me the most.

The touchscreen kiosks allow consumers to do more than just “banking” as the kiosks serve as photobooths. When a consumer snaps a picture through the kiosk, he can post it to his Facebook account as well as the bank’s Facebook account. Plus, MercBank lets customers play dress up digitally. For summer, there’s an overlay to look muscular and around Christmas, patrons can elf themselves.

I’m a photobooth junkie – just ask my colleague Molly Devine – and I know that I, a 20-something female, would walk into a branch just for a good photobooth session.


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Mary joined the Bank Innovation team in 2011 and serves as its editor, blogger and content curator. She covers the commerce, fintech and small business beats. She also oversees RMG’s custom publications, manages the freelancing team and contributes stories for the media company’s print publications. Prior to working at RMG, Mary was the fashion editor at National Jeweler magazine, where she contributed, among other things, coverage of international jewelry shows, Fashion Week, rising gold prices, bloody Burmese gemstones and a Bill Clinton watch junket. Her written work has also appeared in Cracked, Billboard and a number of fashion blogs and business publications. Mary has a BA in Journalism from Pepperdine University in Malibu. She grew up on a dirt road in the suburbs of Detroit and currently lives in New York with two roommates, a record player, an espresso machine and a toy poodle. Mary is endlessly curious and follows anything that grabs her. Current interests include literature, anthropology, travel, essays and fashion. She is fond of good conversation, oceans, startups, dandyism, coffee, cemeteries, Cat Stevens, Gregor von Rezzori, Oscar Wilde and Gidget.

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