EAST WINDSOR, N.J.-Noting that one person speaking out via social media about a better way to bank started Bank Transfer Day, McGraw-Hill FCU is wondering just what more than 150 people doing the same thing can do.

MHFCU has launched its eight-week "We Hear You" video contest in which it is inviting consumers from across the country to create a 90-second video about their personal experiences with credit unions or large banks. As a sweetener, the contest is offering $4,000 in Visa gift cards. Consumers can learn about the effort via McGraw-Hill FCU's website or from its Facebook page. It's also running a TV commercial.

CEO Shawn Gilfedder said the contest is open to anyone with a story to tell about their banking desires and experiences, and he hopes it will spearhead an industry-wide movement that demonstrates how credit unions provide financial wellness in ways the large banks can't or won't.

"As an industry we have to work hard to get our message out and we have a great opportunity today to connect with consumers. Bank Transfer Day was nice, but it was a call to action by one frustrated consumer. Why not allow many other frustrated consumers to tell their stories. We want to create a viral campaign with videos that share visceral emotions, conveying how consumers are feeling about their financial experiences."


How The Promotion Works

Consumers create and then send videos to McGraw-Hill to view, after which it posts the submission on its YouTube page. MHFCU received more than 80 videos in the early weeks of the campaign and expected to receive about 180 by the end of the entry period. Five finalists will be chosen by a panel of CU judges and placed on the MHFCU's Facebook page to be voted on by the public. Videos will be judged on creativity and how memorable and clear the content is.

The grand-prize winner receives a $1,000 Visa gift card, second place gets $700, and third $500. Ten honorable mentions will get $100 gift cards. Each week, during the entry phase, two submissions are randomly selected to each win a $50 gift card.

One early entry shows how a young man turns his life around by switching from a bank to a credit union. The video shows the man as heavy-set, on hold for hours when calling the bank for service, leaving him nothing else to do "but eat my life away." Then, he decides to join a CU, starts working out, and has no hold time when calling the credit union. By the end of the video the young man not only is physically fit, but financially fit as well, which is the video's theme.


One Thing Not A Surprise

Gilfedder said a number of the submissions have been very creative, and that entries are coming in from all age groups, but as one might expect the majority are coming in from younger adults, such as college students. "They are more comfortable with video technology, just turning around their camera phone and shooting."

Gilfedder said the credit union has learned something from the submissions, and it's not surprising. "People are saying they are not happy with their bank, and they would like to switch, but they know the process is difficult and would switch if they had some help."

In addition to offering a channel for consumers to voice their opinions, the $300-million McGraw-Hill is also advising consumers to visit www.asmarterchoice.org.

"With all the challenges people have now in achieving financial wellness, with the large banks not providing help or solutions, it's important for consumers to have a voice in today's financial marketplace," offered Gilfedder

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