‘Cash In’ With a TV Commercial Contest

cash-in-prizesServus Credit Union, the third largest in Canada, has just about wrapped up its “Cash in with Your Camcorder” promotion, a make-your-own-TV-commercial contest highlighting the financial institution’s signature Young & Free Chequing Account.

The promotion is part of the credit union’s Young & Free Alberta initiative, a broad, multi-year “challenge marketing program” from Currency Marketing that has deservedly received much acclaim.

An unshaven Myles Peterman, the 2009 Young & Free spokesperson, dons an undershirt while introducing the contest from his bedroom computer cam.

The Cash In With Your Camcorder contest invited residents of Alberta, Canada, between the ages of 18-25 to create 30-second video commercials about “why the Young & Free Chequing Account rocks.” Prizes included a $2,000 grand prize, and a $1,000 second place prize.

“You could buy an airport for that,” observes 2009 Young & Free spokesperson Myles Petermen says. “It would be made of Legos, but it would be an airport.”

In addition to getting cash, winners may also find their videos used in future advertising.

This submission comes from the previous Young & Free spokester, Larissa Walkiw. The singing trio in this video uses the same stick-figure style as the video that catapulted Ms. Walkiw to international credit union fame back in 2008. With over 75,000 views, Larissa’s “The Difference Between Banks & Credit Unions” is the most-watched YouTube video in the credit union industry…worldwide. If you’re one of the few that hasn’t seen it, you should take a look.

Launched in late October, participants have been submitting their home-made commercials to the credit union. The credit union provided a “starter kit” of standard elements and other video graphics (such as logos) to help contestants with their entries.

People were able to vote for their favorite submissions on the Young & Free Alberta site through the month of November. Winners will be announced on Friday, December 4.


Shown here in the voting phase of the contest.



In addition to promoting Cash In With Your Camcorder on the Young & Free website, Peterman also pushed the contest on the Young & Free Facebook page (278 fans) and Twitter account (720 followers).

The Young & Free Chequing Account, available to the 17-25 year-old Alberta crowd, features free and unlimited withdrawals from network ATMs, account transfers, point-of-sale transactions, cheques, bill payments, and more. It is positioned as a simple and easy-to-understand product for those just starting to manage their own finances. The product is unique among Canadian financial institutions who seldom offer free chequing accounts.

There is an online application for the Young & Free Chequing Account integrated directly into the the credit union’s microsite that is so fantastically simple, you’ll have to see it to believe it.


  • The primary benefit of the campaign for Servus Credit Union is the super cheap marketing they get for their youth account. Giving away $3,000 in prize money is much more cost-effective than having a professional commercial made.
  • The secondary benefit is increased website traffic and word of mouth, since contenders will be pushing all of their friends to visit the Young & Free Alberta site and vote. It’s highly a engaging promotion, regardless of the number of submissions.
  • Contestants are in it primarily for the cash prize and the shot at getting their creative work used in real advertising. For former spokester Larissa, who is currently pursuing a degree in film, having her ad used by a company for commercial purposes would look good on her resume.

Key Takeaways:

If you’re going to hold a “make-your-own-TV-commercial contest,” there are a few things you should learn from the Cash In With Your Camcorder promo:

  1. Consider defining the specific focus of the commercial, as Servus did when they asked contestants to concentrate on the credit union’s unique chequing product. If you don’t provide a range, then you better be prepared to receive entries encompassing the full spectrum of possibilities — loans, savings, checking, brand… who knows?
  2. Provide your logo, slogan, colors and other creative resources to assist entrants with their submissions. This also helps create a standardized framework or “visual vocabulary” for entries.
  3. Never promise the winning video will run on TV. With any kind of online vote, you can never be sure of the turnout, so don’t obligate yourself to publicly running a commercial that would make you (and your CEO) uncomfortable. You can entice contestants with the mere possibility that — if their submission is appropriate — it may actually air.

Bottom Line: All in all, Cash In With Your Camcorder is one of those smart contests where the winners benefit, but the credit union gains even more.

jeff-stephensAbout the author: Jeff Stephens is founder and CEO of Creative Brand Communications (CBC), a full-service bank and credit union branding and marketing agency. CBC helps financial institutions find their story, tell it, and most importantly, prove it.

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