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Bacon = Bad Ass Checking from One Nevada


A new campaign from One Nevada is so edgy, it flirts with the edge of social decency. Did they cross the line? Or is this what it takes to cut through the clutter?

You could be forgiven for thinking the latest commercial from One Nevada Credit Union is nothing more than a made-for-YouTube attempt at “going viral.” It isn’t. It is an honest-to-goodness, real, live TV spot that is being broadcast in people’s homes.

The ad is a contemporary parody of life in the 50s — back when Americans were naïve enough to enjoy things like booze, cigarettes and bacon on a daily basis.

It starts innocuously. Mom is frying up a big pile of pork in the kitchen. She turns to announce proudly that the greasy delight is ready to be served.

“We understand the campaign is a bit edgy, but to break out from the competition, you have to take risks; Our marketing department has never been afraid to do that.”
— Greg Barnes, SVP/Marketing
One Nevada Credit Union

“Bacon!” she beams with a pig-eating grin.

“Since when do we have time for bacon?” her son asks.

“There’s always time for bacon now,” the mom explains. She exudes the all sincerity of annoyingly saccharine Stepford wife.

“Here’s your lunch,” she says, handing the boy an oily paper bag loaded with fried lard. “And don’t forget, bacon burgers for dinner.”

“Isn’t that much bacon bad?” the boy wonders aloud.

Subscribe Today“Yeah, like Bad ASS (bleep) Checking from One Nevada,” the mom replies. She’s unaware of the awkward and inappropriate segue she just made because she’s too busy obsessively stroking a strip of bacon. Never mind that, she needs to recount the product’s features: “We get free mobile check deposits, free text alerts, 43,000 free ATMs, and cash back every month!”

It’s hard to tell whether he thinks his mom has lost her mind or if he’s genuinely picking up on the excitement of the moment. Either way, he feels comfortable letting a low-grade swear word fly for the camera.

“Bad ass (bleep), mom,” the boy says.

Mom agrees. “Super bad ass (bleep), Timmy!”

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One Nevada Credit Union – Bad A$$ Checking

One Nevada’s decision to wrap its checking campaign with a bacon theme has at least some basis in logic. The credit union’s “BACON” account is an acronym that stands for “Bad A$$ Checking from One Nevada.” The product includes a suite of benefits such as Ca$h Perks (a cash back scheme), KeepTrack (a PFM tool) and free text alerts.

A teaser campaign launched on August 1, with digital billboards along major freeways and roadways in Las Vegas showing single pieces of bacon. Twitter exploded with tweets. The teasers resurfaced during “Shark Week” on Discovery, with TV spots showing a shark with bacon. Print teasers also ran in local newspapers showing only a single piece of bacon with the designated hashtag #baconcu.

A series of three commercials featuring a bacon-obsessed mom cooking up an abundance of bacon to her questioning family began airing on August 19. The bacon-crazy mother suddenly has time for bacon in the morning, making bacon sandwiches for her husband and bacon burgers for dinner for her son and his friend.

Other promotional mediums include a larger-than-life-sized bacon cutout where members visiting a branch can take a photo with the bacon and post to One Nevada’s social media sites for a chance to win $250, and a Facebook contest where those who “like” the One Nevada Facebook page can enter for a chance to win a new grill and a year supply of bacon.

The campaign includes a microsite dedicated to BACON.

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Now granted, Americans are more tolerant for coarse language than they were in years past. And Nevada is not known for its sense of etiquette and civility; it’s a rough place where people say and do adult things. However, there seems to still be an implicit line that TV shows can cross but advertisers can’t. Chalk it up to one more of America’s bizarre Puritanical hypocrisies, the truth is many U.S. consumers believe that “nice marketers don’t swear.”

Commenting on the YouTube video, Cindy Arnold described One Nevada’s spot as extremely offensive and thinks it should be pulled immediately.

“Every time I see and hear this commercial it makes me cringe,” Ms. Arnold complained on One Nevada’s YouTube channel. “As a single mother raising a son, I would never become a customer or suggest your company. Advertising leaves a lasting imprint on everyone. Unfortunately, for this company I know many businesses and individuals who I will share this advertisement with, and the response I got from the CEO, Brad Beal.”

The very next comment, another YouTube user who is clearly with the spirit of One Nevada’s commercial, tells Ms. Arnold quite simply to “shut the fuck up.” It’s either a wildly appropriate or inappropriate reply, depending on your point of view.

Keep in mind, these comments are all published publicly on an official credit union YouTube channel.

Now it’s probably safe to infer from Ms. Arnold’s comment that she sent a strongly worded letter to One Nevada’s CEO, Brad Beal. Based on Ms. Arnold’s tone, it sounds like Beal basically told her to stick it. So maybe Ms. Arnold will keep her word and share the commercial with dozens of friends (which would undoubtedly tickle the marketing team at One Nevada).

“We understand the campaign is a bit edgy, but to break out from the competition, you have to take risks,” Greg Barnes, SVP of marketing for One Nevada, told the CU Times. “Our marketing department has never been afraid to do that.”

You have to hand it to them. They aren’t cowards. They believe you have to make some noise if you are going to cut through today’s clutter, and they sticking to their guns. That takes cojones… big ones. Think what you may of One Nevada and their strategy, they’ve got guts.

As The Financial Brand has noted before, the old direct marketing maxim that says you should shoot for a 2% response rate is outmoded and ineffectual. These days, you should shoot for a “2% offense rate,” meaning that if 2% of your audience doesn’t have some sort of issue with your marketing then it probably isn’t edgy enough to get noticed in today’s world.

Key Takeaway: The best, most effective marketing is polarizing. Some people will love it, others will hate it. Also, whenever you run a teaser campaign, the payoff in phase two had better be buzz-worthy; if it’s a dud, you’re dead in the water.

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

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  1. The final verdict around the impact of this commercial will be known soon enough, with measurement of new account inflows and insulted member outflows. While I am not a fan of the continuous (and confusing) reference to bacon in all channels, and not sure if the account could even be considered ‘bad ass’, I commend the marketing team and management for definitely going ‘all in’. In going to their website and social pages, there is overwhelming commitment to the theme.

    I would have loved being in the room when the ad agency presented the concept.

  2. At the end of the day, bacon is bad for you. However, I am happy to see new thinking and glad they are pushing the limits within a conservative industry.

  3. I try to push the edgy envelope daily; if I wasn’t held back it would scare even me what I might try. But as to BACON, well short of living on a deserted unpolluted island somewhere in the South Pacific, just about everything is bad for you, but so what! Had some bacon and sausage yesterday and it rocked! If I die at 75 instead of 80, it’s all good because bacon rocks (or did I mention that already)!

    Now, to the matter of BACON from One Nevada, if this pushes the boundaries of decency perhaps we should be more concerned about Halo and Assassin’s Creed commercials during primetime football games. Showing kids how “cool” first person shooter games is okay right?

    The problem with all most all CU advertising is that is so conservative and boring nobody ever takes notice. I hear all the time from marketers wondering why they aren’t growing; the answer lies in the ads they create which look like they could be for Anywhere Bank in Anywhere United States. Finally, a credit union in Nevada (not the Bible Belt mind you, you must know your market place) dares to be edgy (actually edgy would have been not to bleep the word ass) and people are having cows! Holy smoke Batman, call the thought police immediately!

    I guess they could have called it Bad Donkey from One Nevada.

  4. Americans don’t realize how comical we look to cultures in other countries. We publicly deride coarse language, racy imagery and violence, and yet we cuss like sailors (particularly in movies), devour more porn per capita than just about anyone else, and love our guns. You watch American movies and then compare them to American laws and you’d swear they would have to be from two different countries.

    If someone like Ms. Arnold is concerned about raising her kid in a wholesome environment, perhaps Las Vegas isn’t the best place? There are — literally — a thousand other things a parent could get upset about in Vegas. I know what I’m talking about… I lived there for six years. You can’t drive to the grocery store without seeing an ad (billboard, taxi ad) for a strip club. It didn’t bother me, because hey — that’s Vegas, if you don’t like it, leave. But that kind of stuff bothers a lot of Americans (despite their own behaviors).

    And Roy, you aren’t the first person I’ve heard complain about the inappropriateness of ads aired during NFL games. Spots for intensely frightening horror movies should not be shown during a sporting event that many young kids watch with their families.

    FYI – I don’t think the FCC allows commercials to be aired if they contain words like hell, crap, ass and bitch (to pick a few from the lower end of the cussing scale).

  5. FYI – Nearly 500 bank and credit union marketing execs did not receive their Monday morning email newsletter yesterday because their spam filters did not like the word “ass.”

    UPDATE 8/30 – These 500 readers will no longer be receiving newsletters from The Financial Brand… all because one email contained the word “ass.” Their email servers have determined that any bulk sender referencing “provocative body parts” is a porn spammer — forever, period.

  6. Greg Barnes says:

    The article and comments are a fair assessment of our Bacon campaign. The one humorous item is that FOX 5 Vegas (yes FOX of MasterChef Gordon Ramsey – bleep bleep bleep, Family Guy, The Simpsons, et al), won’t run the ad and insisted we black out the word A$$ on the end tag. We, of course, declined. We just spread our ad dollars amongst the other stations.

    And if you’re wondering, not a single member has come in to close their account.

  7. I love Big Ass Fans and Bad Ass Coffee. I’ve always wanted to charter the Bad Ass Credit Union (yeah, that won’t happen because I’m sure that word is offensive to regulators). I like the commercial and the attitude. Great job, One Nevada.

  8. One Nevada’s desperation to be noticed is strikingly similar to Miley Cyrus’ hoochie mama dance at the VMAs. It is one thing to be noticed — it’s entirely another to be noticed for the right reasons. A credit union whose management shows such poor judgment to resort to such immaturity and desperation to be noticed is not a company whose judgment I would trust with my savings. One Nevada is not being clever: just crass. Anyone can get noticed for that as long as one is willing to stoop low enough. My money will stay with Clark County Credit Union.

  9. Imagine breaking out from the competition by actually offering superior products….no need to compromise the publics view of the company’s professional integrity. My 11 year old son laughs when he sees the commercial. Your “edgy” marketing led me to reiterate to my child not to repeat everything he hears. Bad form One Nevada!

  10. Steven Taylor says:

    In times where common courtesies are being rolled right over and common decencies seems to be disappearing… it’s no surprise that some on here think this is just fine .. I’m here to try and hold society to at least some kind of standards, I hold 4 accounts at One Nevada and am thinking hard that I may want to close them… I want my banking institute to think more about taking care of my money than using swear words to try and drive business …how about just using good old fashion “Good Customer Service” …. I have NEVER heard one of your tellers say ~ Thank You So Much For Choosing One Nevada Today ! … Have A Great Day !!!………………….. Why Don’t Your Start There ?

  11. Steven Taylor says:

    Greg Barnes says:

    August 28, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    And if you’re wondering, not a single member has come in to close their account

    However, Most of your accounts are second chance accounts…so people are not so fast to closed based on that….. Trust me… Most customers are not impressed with your Campaign !!!.

  12. I find it offensive. It’s not cute nor clever and I will never bank with them. Some people may think that I’m overreacting or taking it too seriously, but I do not condone cursing and uphold values. I do not support companies who use offensive advertising. This is why I stopped going to Fresh and Easy. Society gets away with too much inappropriate language, nudity, and vulgar gestures.

  13. It’s hard to live in Vegas if you’re sensitive to “offensive advertising.”

  14. Margeret Kamery says:

    Mr/Ms Editor, you seem to have something against Las Vegas. You know, those of us in, say Henderson, don’t go to the strip to see what you think is “sensitive” advertising. I for one would never consider a financial institution that is inclined to use vulgarity. Also, their facebook page mocks commenters by just cutting and pasting responses. This campaign is a dud

  15. Margeret,

    1. I lived in Vegas for many years. I have nothing against it, and feel fully qualified to comment on its cultural texture.

    2. It’s called “Sin City” for a reason. The R&R Advertising campaign for the LVCVA about “What happens in Las Vegas, stays in Las Vegas” was all about the kinds of things that piss off the “moral majority.” It’s hardly a town that caters to the righteous — residents or tourists — and the city has gone out of its way to cultivate that image. If you think that’s some sort of condemnation, that’s an unfortunate misinterpretation on your part. Vegas is what it is, and a lot of people (including me) like it that way.

    3. Fortunately for you, there are many other financial institutions you can choose from.

  16. BACON

    Stupid ads ….. and we wonder why kids abuse the language… won’t bank there.

  17. I think this is pretty awesome. They are certainly not cowards! I love that they’re sticking to their guns and taking a huge risk. They are completely correct in saying that businesses have to take risks in order to stand out these days. If they’re trying to reach younger members, this is a great way to do it! As a CU marketer, I wish I was allowed to be more edgy!! Nice job, One Nevada!

  18. I don’t think it’s necessary for commercials to contain words that have to be bleeped out to attract customers. It’s better to set a good example for our children.

  19. Note: Nearly every reality show on TV has words bleeped out. Some shows are non-stop bleepfests.

    It seems like a double standard to say TV shows can have a [bleeping] bad word every 10 [bleeping] seconds and then the ads need to have clean language.

    If you want your kids growing up in a totally wholesome environment, it’s probably best to turn your TV off. Or get rid of it completely.

  20. “One Nevada’s desperation to be noticed is strikingly similar to Miley Cyrus’ hoochie mama dance at the VMAs. It is one thing to be noticed — it’s entirely another to be noticed for the right reasons. A credit union whose management shows such poor judgment to resort to such immaturity and desperation to be noticed is not a company whose judgment I would trust with my savings. One Nevada is not being clever: just crass. Anyone can get noticed for that as long as one is willing to stoop low enough. My money will stay with Clark County Credit Union.”

    I couldn’t agree more with, Brad. I believe that it’s a tasteless marketing strategy and personally, I’m embarrassed. There is nothing to laugh or feel safe about when my money is in the cares of a bank that wants to pull stunts like that to broaden their customer base. I’m young but that doesn’t mean that I’ll come flocking to a bank that says, “badass and bacon”, all in the same slogan. NO… I’m disappointed and turned off more so than anything.

  21. Marie Shively says:

    I was shocked when I saw this add for the first time. I wouldn’t bank with them and think it is a poor example to our youth.

    There are many things on TV today that go way too far but for a banking institution, this has gone too far!

  22. Comments closed.

  23. Capital One has a commercial with Samuel L. Jackson saying “every damn day” airing on TV right now. And they didn’t even bleep out the word.

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