3 Credit Union Microsites – The Pros and Cons

Mystery Monkey Tour Contest

Financial Institution: GTE Federal Credit Union
Microsite: www.GTEFCUMysteryMonkeyTour.com

An escaped Rhesus Macaque monkey in Tampa then evaded capture for over a year, traveling across tree tops and through backyards spanning three counties and over 400 square miles. Along the way, the wily monkey accrued a sizable following, becoming a celebrity of sorts, with around 79,000 Facebook fans.

Capitalizing on the media frenzy fueling the monkey’s fandom, GTE Federal Credit Union launched an online “Mystery Monkey Tour Contest.” The contest gave clues to the monkey’s whereabouts via GTE FCU’s Facebook account. The first person to “find” the monkey at four different locations correctly gets a $1,500 cash prize! Anyone who joined during the promotion got a Mystery Monkey of Tampa Bay T-shirt.

Promotional copy states, “Now’s the time to get your game on
in the ultimate contest between man and monkey!”


  • Tapping the local zeitgeist is a perfect strategy for community-based financial institutions. Nothing says “We’re Local!” like a campaign referencing something the rest of the world isn’t a part of.
  • You couldn’t come up with a better name.
  • It’s a fun idea.
  • It generates a level of name awareness that outweighs the investment.
  • The t-shirts are pretty cool.
  • The credit union made a donation to the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary.


  • There is no product tie-in or offer (note: the credit union may be sending email marketing messages to participants).
  • Any connection to the credit union’s brand strategy or its identity isn’t immediately obvious.
  • The contest is structured as a “race.” The contest ends as soon as someone submits the correct answer.
  • Only one winner. No drawing for other participants, some of whom may have invested themselves emotionally in the contest.

Best Staycation Ever

Financial Institution: Orange County’s Credit Union
Microsite: www.staycationcontest.org

This very simple and straightforward promotion asked participants to submit a photograph and 50-word description of their best staycation ever. The sole winner of the $1,000 cash prize was determined by a public vote at the staycationcontest.org microsite. The contest was open to anyone 18 or over living in California.

James Flores, the CEO of Subcat Marketing who developed the contest for Orange County’s Credit Union, tells the story well. “This was their first foray with an online contest like this. Prior to the campaign, the credit union had no social media presence. Our recommendation was to use the contest as a way to not only cross-promote their loan products (which was the credit union’s original vision), but as a way to start an online dialog with members, and take a step into the world of social media and word-of-mouth.”

The contest yielded over 5,000 unique visitors and around 300 photo submissions. Participants’ photos represented staycations in some 190 different California communities.

“Just what is a ‘staycation?’ It’s that close-to-home kind of vacation —
a destination within driving distance.”


  • The concept of staycations supports credit unions’ mission of thrift (albeit a bit indirectly).
  • The microsite is both well-designed and maintained.
  • The site has embedded banner ads promoting loans and membership. There is one for auto loans and another asking visitors to find out how they can join Orange County’s Credit Union.
  • Social networking tools for Flickr and Twitter are incorporated.


  • Some people don’t like staycations (the word and/or concept).
  • There could have been a 2nd and 3rd place prize. Maybe a camera?
  • They barely dipped their pinky toe into Twitter. How aggressively have they pushed their Twitter presence in offline channels?

Do Something Good Today

Financial Institution: Legacy Community FCU
Microsite: dosomethinggoodtoday.com

Legacy Community FCU spent six weeks running around the communities it serves buying people things like gas, haircuts and lunches. It’s a popular PR stunt that’s fairly effective at generating positive word-of-mouth buzz (Alta One Credit Union did something similar with its Good Deeds Done Daily promotion back in 2009.)

The microsite features a cadre of do-good videos — lots of smiles and thank yous.


  • The concept is simple and appealing. Being nice to people is a good thing to do. The credit union left an indelible impression on those whom they surprised. Most probably thought it was the highlight of their day, maybe even their whole week.
  • This kind of stuff generates the absolute best word-of-mouth buzz you could ever dream of.
  • There’s great PR value in a financial institution trying to make the world a better place. News outlets are thirsty for feel-good stories to counter-balance all the negativity. Despite rampant cynicism, people still like hearing feel-good stories.
  • Filming good deeds becomes great footage for TV spots.
  • There’s a simple form right on the homepage so people can easily nominate a good deed. There’s also an email opt-in form so you can stay abreast of all the good deeds. Burying these forms even one page deep would reduce utilization drastically.
  • The “Live Tracker” maps out where good deeds have been done in real time.
  • The microsite incorporates Facebook and Twitter social networking tools.


  • There isn’t any strong call-to-action. What are visitors supposed to do? People should be encouraged to do their own good deeds for others while they are still feeling high on inspiration.
  • It’s hard to link this type of initiative with the bottom line.
  • You have to dig a little to find the best stuff: the gallery of videos.

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