Christmas Bonus! ATM to Spew $50s Instead of $20s

This holiday season, Industrial Credit Union in Bellingham, WA is going to randomly swap 100 $20 bills in one of its ATMs with $50 bills. The promo starts December 1.

According to Matt Vance, the credit union’s marketing chief, the credit union is sending a DM piece about the promo to 5,100 households within a 2-mile radius of its Barkley branch.

The outside of the mailer has no copy, but looks like a Christmas card that could contain something like a gift card.


The mailer unfolds like a Christmas gift.


The credit union isn’t doing the promo at all of its ATMs, just the one. Industrial Credit Union opened its Barkley branch only a few months ago and is looking to boost traffic and awareness.

This will probably do it. In this economy, any free extra cash — especially during the holidays – is sure to generate warm-fuzzies for the credit union’s brand.

The best part about this promo is that it taps people’s gambling nerve center. People are going to walk up to the ATM thinking, “Come on, big money! Big Money!”

Key Question: If you got a $50 bill out of an ATM when you were expecting a $20 bill, how many people do you think you would tell about it?

The credit union is going to stock the ATM with the $50’s the day the mailer hits, and expects that they’ll burn through their allotted budget of $50 bills in about three weeks. We’ll see. It may take less than three weeks.

You can also get pictures with Santa at the branch on December 13th.

Bottom Line: Giving away free money is a sure-fire formula for free PR and word-of-mouth marketing. You get a big marketing bang for the bucks. In this case, all it takes is a postcard and a stack of $50 bills. In this case, the total cost is $3,000 (plus costs for the mailing), since people are already withdrawing $20 from their account and getting a $30 bonus.

Note: You don’t have to do this promo just at Christmas.

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