MIRAMAR, Fla.-Tropical Financial CU here saw great success this year after launching its "Fame for Five" campaign that began with a quest to cast five members from different demographics to represent the credit union.

About 300 people auditioned for the spots, 35 were chosen as finalists (with videos posted to YouTube) and five were chosen. Each member of the quintet signed a contract that they would be paid $5,000 over the course of the year, and all five have appeared in advertisements and at various public events in which Tropical has taken part.

"We're running above average on all of our campaigns," said Amy McGraw, VP of marketing at the 53,000-member, $555-million credit union. "Not much above average on the ones not using Fame for Five, but well above industry average on the ones using Fame for Five."

Membership and lending have also increased since bringing on the new spokespersons, said McGraw, noting that last year Tropical Financial did $20 million in mortgages, and expects to wrap up 2012 with more than $100 million. McGraw said that the increase isn't solely because of the Fame for Five cast members, but "these people share their stories in a real, positive, believable way that makes it easier for people to join."


To Run Through 2013

Fame for Five will run through part of 2013, and McGraw said the CU has only recently hired a consultant to look into how the campaign boosted penetration into the different demographics the group represented, including Hispanics, young mothers, Gen Y and more. But she noted that the goal wasn't to reach further into those demographics but to showcase a "a good cross section of what the credit union represents."

But don't expect to see Fame for Five return in the future. "It's kind of like Bank Transfer Day," said McGraw. It's not something that I think can be repeated and have the same success rate. We've been there and done that."

McGraw would not share what the 2013 campaign would be because the board still hasn't approved it, but said it will focus on Gen Y.

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