BOAA's playful ad campaign pays off
by Eve Silberman
For two years now, the Bank of Ann Arbor has been gleefully giving competitors the Ann Arbor version of the Bronx cheer. The ads—in both traditional and social media—highlight competitors’ outsider status. Each begins, “Non-local banks think …,” followed by a funny potential misunderstanding:
the Arb serves roast beef
the Jerk Pit is a singles bar
Hieftje is a typo
The campaign has entertained Ann Arborites to the point that local radio host Martin Bandyke told CEO Tim Marshall that someone called the station to ask what time the next BOAA ad would run. Riding the wave, the bank (which has four Ann Arbor branches, plus outlets in Plymouth and Ypsilanti) ran a “build a billboard contest” on Facebook last year, generating 700 submissions. Grand Prize–winner Janine Hutchinson won for “Non-local banks think Mani Osteria plays for the Tigers.” Her gag ran as a radio spot.
“We hear from small businesses” delighted at being mentioned in the ads, says Marshall, mentioning, among others, Red Shoes (“… sells red shoes”) and Heavenly Metal (“… is a nun rock band”). While some businesses featured are BOAA customers, they are “not necessarily” favored as ad picks, says marketing VP Rhonda Foxworth. Local ad firm Perich & Partners conceived the idea and writes the ads, and Foxworth often pitches ideas, driving around town to check out new stores or businesses. “We’ve used around 100 headlines so far in the various media,” she emails.
The unflattering references to outside banks play on “buy local” sentiments, further fueled by what Marshall describes as a “backlash” against national banks and Wall Street after the financial crash. The ad campaign has undoubtedly contributed to BOAA’s very healthy growth: assets have increased 43 percent in the two years the ads have run. Marshall, however, does not want to overemphasize the ads’ impact; he notes that the bank has long supported community activities and that it gives its customers personal attention. (Recently, for instance, he himself helped a customer who
lost her checkbook over the weekend.) Also a factor, adds Cliff Sheldon of Ann Arbor State Bank, is BOAA’s acquisition two years ago of the former New Liberty Bank in Plymouth. Though the two are competitors, Sheldon credits BOAA with “helping all the local banks by their copy.”
Bank of Ann Arbor has “become very passionate about social media,” says Marshall. He points to another popular Facebook competition: people “like” BOAA in order to “vote” for their favorite nonprofit; the winner receives a donation from the bank. Like the billboards, it’s another clever way to urge people to bank the BOAA way.BOAA will open a Saline branch sometime this fall. Perich & Partners has already rolled out some clever “headlines” to draw potential customers there. Those silly non-local banks, goes one effort, think “Saline is currently playing Caesar’s Palace.”
[Originally published in July, 2012.]