Rotoscope Captures Retail Investments

Credit unions can play on casual dialogue and strange animation to create advertisements that engage viewers with a retail investment message.


Retail investments is typically a pretty dry topic in the financial services industry. And unfortunately, the advertisements and marketing campaigns that supplement the programs tend to be equally as dry. Middle-aged men stand in front of a massive oak desk in a spacious office or take a walk outside on a beautiful spring day and talk directly to the camera. I know that image is supposed to comfort me, but I don’t see myself – or my investment needs – in that setup.

But in 2005, San Francisco-based Charles Schwab reinvented the image of retail investment with its “Talk to Chuck” campaign, an informal communication strategy that called the founder by his nickname and added some k-centric sounds that erupt off the palate, instead of the receding syllables, like ch, l, and the b at the end of Schwab.

Chuck Rotoscope Screenshot

The television advertisements, as seen above, feature real people talking about the real problems they have with their investment advisers. Except the “real” people don’t look real at all, they look like animations. The commercials rotoscope the subjects to boldly differentiate colors, accentuating variations in tone, texture, and shadow. The advertisements have a futuristic visual to them, making viewers stop and think about what the actors are saying.

Critics say the rotoscoped advertisements are pointless and distracting. But the campaign got people talking, even the critics. And not to get too proverbial here, but any press is good press.

In today’s environment, many credit unions are looking to retail investments to help them manage the influx of deposits from members seeking shelter for their money. Consumers want liquidity; unfortunately, the increase on the liability side of the balance sheet can strain even the strongest financial institutions. Credit unions that move some of those deposits into investments can lessen that strain.

This week starts retail investments theme week on Timely, as both Lake State Federal Credit Union ($184.3M, Moose Lake, MN) and MidWest America Federal Credit Union ($490.3M, Fort Wayne, IN) have recently been in the news for their broker-dealer partnership with INVEST Financial Corporation. It’s a good time for credit unions to think about the kind of advertising they’d like pushing their product. Bland ads might not get the attention or the activity credit unions are looking for. Perhaps try incorporating something different, something strange. Take a bit of a risk to garner member attention. We’ve seen it work in increasing consumer awareness and pulling members over from big banks. Now make it work for your investment book.


July 9, 2012



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