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Campaign Q&A: The Bigger The Bank, The Smaller The Customer

[Note: Want your bank or credit union marketing project featured on The Financial Brand? Just complete this questionnaire here.]

Community & Southern Bank’s ad agency answers questions about its brand advertising campaign that mocks big banks for treating customers like piddling little peons.

Name of project: “The Bigger The Bank, The Smaller The Customer
Name of bank:
Community & Southern Bank
Geographic area(s) served: Metro Atlanta, Georgia
Assets: $2.2 billion
# of branches: 37
Slogan/tagline: My CSB & Me

Answers provided by: Thomas Bigelow, President of Bigelow Advertising

Project objective(s)? The goal was to grab prospective customers’ attention with a believable statement about customer service, giving them a good reason to choose CSB. Also, attract new accounts by reassuring prospects that if they choose CSB for its superior personal attention, they won’t be sacrificing the advanced products and services they expect from a mega bank.

Target audience(s)? People who live/work within 5 miles of each branch.

What was the basic strategy and solution behind this project? CSB versus the big banks. Community & Southern has all the services you’d expect from one of those big, out-of-state banks, like Bank of America or Wells Fargo, only in a friendlier size. And we’re local. Choose a partner who’s your partner. At CSB customers aren’t insignificant ants or pawns. They’re friends and neighbors who serve enthusiastically. Our goal is to be a trusted, reliable financial partner.

Citrix | Financial Services IT Solutions

How was an ad agency utilized as part of this project? Bigelow Advertising of Atlanta, Georgia created the campaign which centered around radio as the primary medium, supported by outdoor, transit, bus shelters, and some cable TV. Also non-traditional media like gas station pump toppers and oversized branch window banners were used at new locations. A new jingle, “My CSB & Me” was created and used throughout the radio and TV campaign.

What was the most difficult part of the project? Separating our brand from its competitors in a highly crowded category. With 37 branches spread across Georgia the tallest hurdle was crafting a media plan that reduced waste. This was achieved through targeted radio utilizing nearly a dozen stations in a variety of formats. Folding in additional geographically targeted media, such as bus station shelters and billboards, along with gas station pump toppers and MARTA train station saturations increased impressions close to the branch locations. The biggest surprise was the publics’ emotional connection and debate over what creature or object featured on the creative was “the best” to visually communicate a feeling of insignificance.

How was success measured for this campaign? Community & Southern Bank is a relatively new bank in the metro Atlanta market. This campaign is their first pure branding attempt to stand out from their competition. The campaign is currently in market until the end of September 2012. With the opening of the new branches success is being measured by the number of new accounts being opened.

The complete series of posters in the “Small Customer” campaign. For a typographic contrast in scale, the big part of the headline reads, “The bigger the bank…” and then in small type, “the smaller the customer.” The corresponding artwork drives home the “miniscule” concept, implying big banks see customers as insignificant– small fry, ant, peanut, pawn, etc.

Raddon | Strategic Guidance for Accelerated Growth

CSB “Small Customer” Campaign – Careful (1:00 Radio)

A one-minute radio commercial (with jingle) mocking big banks and their impersonal, snooty approach to customer service. A second spot titled “Heard Something” also supports the campaign.

More work from Bigelow Advertising on behalf of CSB. This campaign is more retail focused (vs. brand/image, awareness).

All content © 2017 by The Financial Brand and may not be reproduced by any means without permission.

Digital Banking Report | 2017 Marketing Trends


  1. Doesn’t CSB now own the Acru brand that FB has featured several times? Why wouldn’t they use that??!

    Seems like the easiest way for those seeking “separating (one’s) brand from its competitors in a highly crowded category”, a category (banking) that the public generally dislikes, would be use this new Acru banner and present yourselves as something different entirely. Present the “next generation of financial services” as opposed to trying to win a competition in a noisy market that the customer views as a pure commodity anyway.

    Marketing miss.

  2. John,

    Yes, this is the same CSB.

    Acru has been covered by The Financial Brand twice: once about their general strategy, and once again when photos were available of the branch (which is so noteworthy it really deserved a deeper look).

    If I was to guess why/how this project was submitted, CSB’s ad agency probably saw coverage of Acru in The Financial Brand and became regular readers. Then when The Financial Brand extended an invitation for bank/CU marketers to submit their work, the agency responded.

  3. Acru was acquired by CSB as recently as a month ago when CSB took over operations of First Cherokee State Bank and Georgia Trust Bank.

    Bigelow Advertising became fans of The Financial Brand prior to pitching their business. We’ve found it to be a great site to reconnoiter what’s good and what’s not in the category.

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