VIENNA, Va.-There's a new team on ESPN's "Monday Night Football" this season: Navy Federal.
Navy FCU, the nation's largest credit union, has run ads during local football broadcasts before, but its foray into "Monday Night Football"-consistently one of the highest-rated programs on television-is its first attempt at a national TV ad campaign.
"This is our first time going big, as they say," said Jeanette Mack, manager of corporate communications at the $49-billion credit union. "We have to really take a look at our target audience and who they are, and our target audience right now is younger, active duty military members, and what they like is sports."
Navy Federal has previously aired commercials during local sports broadcasts, and sports channels-such as ESPN and Fox Sports-have long been a part of its media buys. But Mack said that because Navy Federal has a national brand with branches nationwide and members around the world, "the next step was to go national."
The ads use military themes to playfully discuss the benefits of being a Navy Federal member-such as hunkering down and flying in reinforcements...to help after a baby is born-while also playing up its low rates, rewards programs and more, including that membership is open to members and families of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Department of Defense.
The "Monday Night Football" spots began airing on Monday, Sept. 10, the first broadcast of the new season. when the Baltimore Ravens took down the Cincinnati Bengals, followed by the Oakland Raiders beating the San Diego Chargers. Those two games were the highest-rated cable broadcast for that week, according to Nielsen Ratings, with more than 21 million viewers.
Navy FCU's ads are set to run on each week's "MNF" broadcast throughout the regular season, with one spot during the pre-game show and two or three during the game. The CU has an option to run ads during playoff games, but Mack said that hasn't been discussed in detail yet.
Don't expect to see Navy Fed spots during the Super Bowl, however. Mack said that the CU has not discussed running an ad during the program that features the most expensive TV rates each year.
Mack would not share the costs associated with the weekly broadcasts, but noted that Navy Federal has seen "fantastic growth this year," with loan volumes at $5 billion for the year, on track to end at $6.4 billion in consumer loans. "The best thing we can do for our members is to get more members and elevate ourselves and become stronger," she said.
Mack said the response from members has been "absolutely positive." She said it's too soon to say if the ads resulted in any lift in membership or loans, but stressed that the campaign is more about continuing to build the brand than bolstering the bottom line.
When asked if other large credit unions with a national presence should be pursuing this kind of ad strategy, Mack stressed that because every CU's FOM is different, each strategy will be different. "We've done this because this is what makes sense for us," she said. "If it makes sense for them and they're a national brand and have the branches and the need and the desire and the budget, that's something they should consider."
More info: navyfederal.org
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