How Partners FCU Markets What Its Members Want

The credit union's integrated marketing campaigns help spread and support the messages from its sole sponsor group.


The Walt Disney Company is a multinational conglomerate with business stakes in a variety of fields, including media networks, parks and resorts, interactive media, and production and distribution studios. This can present a challenge to Partners Federal Credit Union ($1.5B, Burbank, CA), a SEG-based credit union that’s sole sponsor is the Mouse.

“We serve all the various subsidiaries of the Walt Disney Company and their family members,” says Mike Terzian, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Partners. “That’s hundreds and hundreds of companies.”


Partners FCU
Data as of 09.30.16

HQ: Burbank, CA
MEMBERS: 130,551
12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 11.6%
ROA: 0.80%

The credit union’s primary markets include southern California cities such as Burbank, Los Angeles, and Anaheim, as well as central Florida locales such as Orlando, Cape Canaveral, and Tampa.

Marketing to these disparate areas can be a challenge, which is why approximately three-and-a-half years ago the credit union reconsidered its approach to integrated marketing campaigns.

Until that time, Partners ran marketing campaigns that tie together a credit union product with an asset of the Walt Disney Company, such as intellectual property or parks and resorts, once or twice a year. And those campaigns returned varying results.

Today, however, Partners runs between six and eight integrated campaigns every year. Those campaigns end up supporting the Walt Disney Company in some way, shape, or form on a weekly basis, says the credit union’s assistant vice president of marketing, Royce Ngiam.

“We find out what is important to Disney so we can offer corporate support and spread the message,” Ngiam says.

The Hook

Tie-ins for integrated campaigns are primarily property driven, Ngiam says, but the teams can get creative and collaborative in determining the prize giveaway.

For example, the credit union partnered with Freeform, the cable channel formerly known as ABC Family, at the end of 2016 to run an ugly holiday sweater promotion. New members, referrals, and completed loan applications earned members an ugly holiday sweater, perfect to celebrate Freeform’s annual 25 Days of Christmas scheduling.

“We came up with it over lunch,” Ngiam says. “We were talking about ugly sweaters with the Freeform team and realized why don’t we just give those away?”

Other join, refer, or apply promotions have included hats with branding from the television series Shadowhunters and dinosaur slippers inspired by the movie The Good Dinosaur. And visitors to the credit union's website currently can learn how to snag a car sun shade with branding from the Disney Junior series Mickey and the Roadster Racers.


Partners FCU helped cable channel Freeform celebrate 25 Days of Christmas via an integrated marketing campaign that offered ugly sweaters for new members, referrals, and completed loan applications (top). Visitors to the credit union's website currently can learn how to snag a car sun shade with branding from the Disney Junior series Mickey and the Roadster Racers.

But Partners doesn't rely solely on swag for its campaigns. For example, a recent promotion offered members who used their Partners FCU credit card a chance to win a stay at the Disney resort Aulani. And in November 2015, soon after the EMV liability shift, Partners entered those who used their Partners EMV chip cards for a chance to win a Playmation Marvel’s Avengers Starter Pack.

The Return

For each of these campaigns, the credit union measures success in terms of production, member engagement, and corporate support of the Walt Disney Companies.

Partners defines production by new memberships, referrals, or loan applications completed as a result of these campaigns. For chief marketing officer Terzian, he would be disappointed if the credit union failed to bring in more than 1,500 members with each promotion. For example, during the Aulani promotion, credit card applications increased 45%.

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In terms of engagement, the credit union measures campaign exposure by tracking impressions across all channels — including on its Facebook and YouTube pages for which Partners produces tongue-in-cheek videos for each campaign. According to Terzian, the credit union tries to hit a minimum of 1 million impressions for each campaign.

“Like Disney, we are in the business of storytelling,” Terzian says. “We try to tell a story through our campaigns.”

Each campaign video typically requires 10 to 14 hours of production, 99% of which Partners completes in-house, but that's not always the case. For the new Star Wars movie, Rogue One, Partners created a two-part video that used Legos and special effects.

“There’s laser blasters and fire so it took longer,” Ngiam says. “Our president came by to see us at 10 a.m. on a Tuesday and said, ‘Why is everybody building Legos?’”

Watch Part 1 below and click here to see Part 2.



Although other credit unions don’t have the Walt Disney Company as a sponsor group, Ngiam says Partners isn't any more creative or technically proficient than any other credit union that wants to try similar campaigns. Ultimately, the marketing AVP says, Partners succeeds by showing support for what its members value.

“Our members are working on 25 Days of Christmas and Moana," he says. “That’s the secret to our success. We ask them what’s important to them and then we support that message.”