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NEFCU Gambles on Non-Traditional Approach to Advertising – and Wins


Sometimes the best approach to advertising isn’t building your credit union up in the eyes of viewers. Rather, it is tearing the banking competition down – in a light-hearted, playful manner.Keep reading to see how one credit union made such a marketing effort work in a major way.

For one credit union, the most effective way to say “who it is” is to show who it isn’t.That’s been the thinking behind the award-winning advertising campaign for NEFCU, which spends much of its valuable advertising airtime lampooning its bloated banking brethren rather than discussing its own low rates and attractive member services.

That formula may sound antithetical to basic marketing, but it has proven to be a successful one for the 160,000-member Long Island credit union. Located in a community of banking behemoths, NEFCU boldly decided to go directly after its imposing competitors as a way of defining itself.

Despite continued growth in the market and success in attracting members, NEFCU realized there was still a need to educate a great number of Long Islanders as to who NEFCU was, what it did and even how to pronounce its name.

The result was the creation of a new television campaign that debuted in 2013.The first spot followed in the wake of the banking bailouts, presenting an unflattering look at banks and the charmed life they lead despite their unpopular practices and countless failings.

As an Italian aria hauntingly plays beneath the announcer’s condemnation of banks, viewers see a boardroom gathering of silver-haired, self-satisfied and out-of-touch bankers who clearly do not have their customers’ best interests at heart. The commercial makes just one reference to NEFCU.

“We came to the conclusion that our marketing would have so much more of an impact if we focused on the negatives of big banks and simply reminded people that we do the opposite,” said Valerie Garguilo, vice president of marketing and community relations for NEFCU.“We don’t need to shout who we are; a whisper is much louder.”

The commercial also introduced NEFCU’s new tagline: Better banking because we’re not a bank.

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