Client: Huntington Bank
Vendor: Arnold Worldwide and SourceLink
Objective: Promote Asterisk Free Checking
As a result of the recession, Huntington Bank, a financial institution with more than 600 local branches across six states in the Midwest, has geared its direct marketing and advertising efforts to drive home its “Fair Play Banking” philosophy. Huntington, which offers a 24-hour grace period for over-drafted checking accounts or “Asterisk-Free Checking,” works with strategic and creative agency of record Arnold Worldwide and direct marketing agency SourceLink to ensure that all marketing communications drive home Huntington’s commitment to customers.
“In some ways, we get in the way of ourselves as an industry,” says Huntington’s CMO David Clifton. “We’ve given the customer lots of information. We’ve loaded them up with too much information for them to understand. That’s an opportunity for us. We’re simplifying all of that.”
STRATEGY: Last September, Huntington launched a multimedia campaign online and across direct channels explaining the value of Asterisk Free Checking. In one TV spot, a young woman buying coffee makes eyes at the attractive barista running her credit card. As her card is swiped, an asterisk pops up over her head to indicate her angst over whether her account will be overdrawn and whether she will be judged by the barista.
The Asterisk Free Checking campaign piggybacked the 24-Hour Grace Period campaign, which launched one year prior. Both campaigns spanned direct mail, banner ads, search engine optimization and TV. Clifton says the campaigns have been successful because, “Where we come from, we are taking a contrarian point-of-view within the industry … Customers are interested in banks doing the right thing.”
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RESULTS: Huntington entered the first quarter of 2012 with a 10.2% growth in checking accounts opened, compared with Q1 of last year. “For us to have a 10% year-over-year household growth, you know our marketing is working on all cylinders,” Clifton says, “especially since the industry is flat at 1% growth.” Huntington will launch more 24-Hour Grace Period and Asterisk Free Checking campaigns “in a few months,” Clifton says.