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“The credit union decided it would be a good way of separating themselves from the banks and they had a little fun with it also,” says iDiz owner Kent Dicken.
“We wanted objects that were daily, everyday objects, that people ran across that were plain and boring.” Kent Dicken, iDiz
Their pitch on outdoor billboards was “boringissexy”, which was followed up by a website. It was an incredibly spartan campaign aesthetic. They had created an intro flash element for TV but because the billboards and website did so well, the TV spots were unnecessary.
The imagery is essential in highlighting the no frills, straight-talking, mom-and-pop nature of the enterprise. The objects have an almost Pop Art feel in their minimalism: a vanilla ice cream cone; a brick; a paintbrush; masking tape.
The aesthetic of boredom is brutal in its simplicity. “We decided that the way it would work was to use some phrasing that followed a theme,” explains Dicken. “That’s why we came up with phrases like the ‘Plain Vanilla Auto Loan’, and ‘The Delightfully Dull Home Equity Loan’. We wanted objects that were daily, everyday objects, that people ran across that were plain and boring.”
The website is boring, and the strapline is ‘Montana 1st Credit Union, Boring since 1931’. Montana isn’t a very highly populated state, and “people got a big kick out of it,” says Dicken. “It’s also a college town so they can appreciate that sense of humour.”
It’s funny, but it is so plain, and not trying to be too clever, which is why it feels honest and homespun. “What was so funny,” recalls Dicken, “was that the credit union started putting vanilla ice cream in their branches, and during this campaign they began giving away plain vanilla ice cream. It’s gone over so well that they installed ice-cream freezers in their branches and they continue it to this day.”
iDiz are currently doing a new campaign in a similar vein called thankyourbank.com. “It’s a website,” says Dicken, “where people can write in. It’s aimed at the frustration people have with megabanks, and the problems they have had with credit cards and rates. It lets people vent their feelings and they can write comments and as long as they aren’t naming names, or being offensive, they will get a t-shirt as part of the campaign.”
While standing in line at a bank, other than being given a large bunch of notes, it’s hard to imagine anything more pleasurable than the gift of a plain vanilla ice-cream.
It’s so simple, honest and human. It’s more than plain-speaking. It’s difficult not to smile at the brutal simplicity of the imagery, the humour of the product names. It’s a campaign that does something far more valuable for a brand than creating a buzz. It generates good-will.
There is one word to describe the communication style guaranteed to least speak the same language as consumers about Financial Services. Vanilla. No frills, no big promises, just plain generic WYSIWYG.