Del-One Federal Credit Union has introduced a trio of advertisements aimed at increasing consumer awareness and giving its advocacy efforts a boost.

The three spots launched in January and will run throughout the remainder of the year on TV statewide, as well as online and on the $440 million-asset credit union’s social media channels.

According to Amy Resh, director of marketing at Del-One, while previous commercials were generally product- and service-focused, “these are the first we have done that are more focused on the members’ personal stories.”

Horacio Garcia-Korosec, director of innovations at Del-One, said the goal of this video campaign is to “increase a potential member’s ability to recognize the Del-One brand, and associate it with our member advocacy efforts.”

Stephanie Preece, Del-One
Stephanie Preece, Del-One’s chief administrative officer

This project marks the first time Del-One has worked with Big River Film, a company that Del-One’s chief administrative officer, Stephanie Preece, was already familiar with. Big River, despite having never worked with CUs before, was selected because of its “focus on simplicity and their ability to bring stories to life.”

Nathan Cronk, director and owner of Big River Film, told CU Journal that after meeting with Del-One officials, the credit union asked him to help them in their marketing efforts by creating commercials that would feature some of their members in a "story-driven" format.

“As creatives in the commercial film industry in Delaware, we are constantly on the look-out for clients whose imaginations and passion for authentic story-telling soars as high as our does,” said Cronk. “Del-One allowed us to tell the raw, beautiful stories of just a few of their incredible clients – it's rare to have a client who is so open and comfortable with this, but the results speak for themselves.”

Not only did Big River “capture the essence of who we are as a financial institution,” said Preece, “they captured how we feel about our members. The feelings that come from these films are what motivate our teams to come back day in and day out and serve our members and our community.”

The videos
The first video features member Calvin Suggs and his wife, who – with the help of Del-One – faced and overcame a financial crisis exacerbated by low credit scores.

The credit union found Suggs by asking branch managers for stories of members they’d been able to assist.

A still from a Del-One Federal Credit Union commercial featuring testimonials from member Calvin Suggs.
A still from a Del-One Federal Credit Union commercial featuring testimonials from member Calvin Suggs.

“Mr. Suggs is a member that Del-One was able to help at a time when he needed it most,” she said. “Through the help of Del-One, he and his family were able to obtain a vehicle loan and find the financial freedom they needed.”

A second video features Del-One’s non-profit organization, the Del-One Foundation, a longtime supporter of Kay’s Kamp, a facility for children with cancer developed by member Laurie Warren. The camp was named in honor of her daughter Kaylyn, who died of cancer.

A still from a Del-One Federal credit Union commercial focusing on the work the CU does to benefit Kay's Kamp, an area facility for kids with cancer.
A still from a Del-One Federal credit Union commercial focusing on the work the CU does to benefit Kay's Kamp, an area facility for kids with cancer.

The third video shows a member named Abigail McAllister who lost her husband to cancer and subsequently sought emotional support by seeking Del-One’s help in publishing his poetry. The credit union also provided her with a personal loan to save her home following her spouse’s death.

Cronk said McAllister's story was “multifaceted and included plenty of potential topics to explore,” whether it was fleeing from war as a child or making a life for herself as an immigrant in the U.S.

“When attempting to make a short and compelling commercial -- while also telling Abigail's story -- we had a lot of tough decisions to make,” he said. “Mainly, what aspects of her story would make it into the plotline of the commercial and which would not? As a storyteller, this is one of the most difficult aspects of creating a compelling commercial.”

While Del-One helped Abigail in a number of ways outside of loaning her money to help publish her husband's books, said Cronk, focusing on this one aspect of her story ties Abigail's “complex and colorful life-story to Del-One in a very concrete way.”

1,000 words

Cronk further explained that his film company’s process for bringing together these story-driven pieces required “massive buy-in” from those who are in the videos.

“Members who are featured in the videos are asked to give up large amounts of their time for pre-production and filming, and are asked to be open and vulnerable in telling their stories,” he said. “Simply put, their lives have been seriously transformed by this credit union and it only makes sense that they would want to share their stories so that others can experience the same financial benefits they are experiencing.”

However, Cronk cautioned that they took the process slowly with members who were featured in the videos, “building in large amounts of time in the pre-production process to simply listen, to understand their stories fully, and to allow them the time and space to trust us with the telling of their most personal stories.”

‘A positive impression’

Paul Lucas, a credit union marketing specialist, praised the commercials [Kay’s Kamp and Suggs] he saw, noting that they have “high production value and feature likeable people that inspire empathy.”

Members of the credit union, Lucas noted, may react to these messages “with a sense of pride that their credit union cares about people.”

Suggs’ story, Lucas pointed out, demonstrates the power the credit union has “to make a significant difference in their members’ lives.” In this spot, the credit union has a starring role, Lucas noted. “It could have strong appeal to people who are frustrated with big banks and who need some help improving their finances,” he elaborated. “This spot, combined with all of the credit union’s messages at all touchpoints – if they are presented in the same level of creative excellence – could help generate business with a sustained advertising presence.”

With respect to Kay’s Kamp, Lucas said that “It’s a positive message,” but indicated that the credit union itself is not “the star.” It’s a “decent PR effort,” he added, but the intention of the spot does not appear to be to “sell” the credit union to new members or to inspire increased use of the credit union’s products and services.

Lucas concluded that both of these spots demonstrate the importance of developing professional marketing materials in terms of both message development and production value.

“Both of these spots create a positive impression of all credit unions,” he asserted.