Journalists are taught to find the angle. There is always a way to take a story and spin it so that your audience finds it interesting. A natural disaster on the other side of the world? Find out if anyone local was hurt or involved. A new food trend sweeping the nation? Talk to local chefs to get their thoughts. You get the picture.
Marketers often take plays from the journalists' playbook. Case in point, Latitude 32 Credit Union. There's been a lot of press leading up to the so-called Mayan Apocalypse. The ancient Mayans predicted that the world would end on Dec. 21, 2012. If that does, then Latitude 32, a Charleston, S.C., credit union, will forgive all of the auto loans it originated between Dec. 3 and Dec. 21. No word on whether borrowers who got auto loans prior to Dec. 3 are still on the hook.
This is clearly not a serious offer from Latitude 32. The credit union understands that if the world ends, there will be nobody around to pay their auto loans. But the institution is attempting to take a much ballyhooed event and make some lemonade out of it. In this way, the credit union should be commended for its cleverness and ingenuity. Latitude is a fairly small credit union, with about $42 million in assets.
This is a good example of an out-of-the-box promotional idea that can generate a lot of exposure for an institution, especially smaller lenders.
I've written a fair bit about these kinds of promotions, and how they can separate lenders from the traditional, old-fashioned car commercial. There are so many good ideas that can be implemented and applied to the auto finance industry. Latitude 32 clearly has its tongue implanted firmly in its cheek with this idea. But it has generated a lot of exposure for the credit union. Credit Union Times, The Financial Brand, and Investorplace.com all picked up the credit union's press release and helped promote the news. These are the kinds of ideas that people remember.