Social Media, Ads, and Brand Risk

I just watched an interesting video produced by/for Innovations Credit Union. The credit union looks to highlight the difference between the credit union and its bank competitors. You can watch it here:

I have to say I do like the creativity of the effort. It is definitely different than “traditional” credit union media efforts which tend to feature CEOs sitting at or on the edge of their desks while stiffly describing credit union value. Hardly an inspiration with regard to moving consumers to new credit union relationships.

I do have some concern with Innovation’s video, however, reflecting the greater brand risk associated with social media tools and ad placement. While I was watching this video the first time, on YouTube, an ad for Pentagon Federal Credit Union was in prominent position, overlaying the bottom of the video. The next few times I watched the video, other ads were displayed, including this one for a finance company:


Reflecting on my first viewing, the one with the overlay ad for Pentagon, I think is it is worth pointing out that both Innovations and Pentagon are exposed to a certain degree of brand risk. While they may have already acknowledged this risk while drafting their social media and advertising strategies, other credit unions new to social media activities may not be so enlightened – hence the need to explore the risk.

So what is the risk? For Innovations, the content creator, the risk is that the creative effort actually drives business to competitors. For Pentagon, the risk is that the tone of the video may not be reflective of Pentagon’s desired brand image.

In the days of “old media,” advertisers pulled, or threatened to pull, advertisements from TV networks, shows, newspapers, etc. that did not reflect their brand sensibilities. Specifically with regard to TV, back when there were only 3 channels to choose from, brands had a much better ability to coordinate and control how and where their image was being used.

In the dynamic world of “new media” advertisement, that control, as we see in the case of the Innovations video, is not so easy to come by.

It is possible that innovations set up their YouTube video channel to profit from the ads that show on their video, but that small profit may come at the expense of lost business.


  1. While the competitive ads may pose a mild risk, if I were the credit union exec I’d be more concerned about how poorly the bank bashing theme of the ad reflects on my own credit union image. As early as preschool we teach children the value of good sportsmanship, being humble and treating others with respect. We also teach about how tearing down others is often a reflection of one’s own insecurities. Are these values not practical in a business setting, too?

    I fail to see how bashing banks elevates a credit union’s individual brand in consumer’s minds. If your products and services are superior, then make that the focus of your marketing rather than resorting to tearing down your competition. If you cannot communicate the superiority of your offering without denigrating your competition, then perhaps your energy would be better spent improving your own services.

  2. Jason,

    I’m going to respectively disagree about the bank bashing theme. I think now is a great time for credit unions to draw a distinction between themselves and banks. Let’s be honest: most consumers have no clue how banks and credit unions are different. Innovations CU is poking a little fun at the banks expense in order to educate consumers about their credit union. I think the video is clever, entertaining and no real harm is being done.

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