FITCHBURG, Mass.-Gen Y memberships are up 40% at IC Federal Credit Union since it launched a series of irreverent ads on YouTube aimed at the younger demographic.

"Forty percent is way above anything that we've ever done with Gen Y," said Pati Maguy, marketing administration coordinator at the 21,000-member, $469-million credit union.

Gen Y growth in recent years has averaged around 3%. This campaign was the first time ICFCU has targeted its marketing message directly at Gen Y, and Maguy said that the business strategy didn't change, only the method of attracting that demographic's attention.

ICFCU worked with Compass, a local creative services agency, to create the ads. One animated ad explained the importance of having life insurance in case of a zombie attack, while another used Claymation to discuss the importance of the "S-word" (saving) while bleeping out the actual word.

The four ads that have run so far have received more than 40,000 total views on YouTube, and two more ads are set to run in the early months of 2013. ICFCU has also extended its contract with Compass to produce three more ads during the coming year.

The strategy is paying off. Maguy explained that getting the ads to go viral was an important part of the marketing strategy, and new videos are only released every two or three months. Since launching the first video in February, Gen Y accounts and loans are up by 25%, including 1,286 new deposit accounts and 392 new loans.

Maguy pointed out that the company behind the ads is made up of Gen Y members, "so they kind of get it. We've asked for certain topics and have gone exclusively on their ideas for the most part."

The trick with reaching Gen Y, she said, is to reach out to them on the Internet, do it quickly and in a way that's interesting to them. IC is also looking into piggy-backing the success of these ads by running spots on TV targeted at young consumers as part of a branding campaign.

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