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We Are ‘Not a Bank’ – Vantage West’s New Ad Campaign Explores the Contrast Between Big Banks and Credit Unions

Seizing on increasing public preference for supporting local businesses, Vantage West has unveiled a new ad campaign that distinguishes us from for-profit financial institutions and demonstrates our support for other local businesses. 

According to a recent survey from the Financial Trust Index, just 38% of Americans trusted national banks. In contrast, nearly 60% trusted credit unions.

That’s one reason Vantage West is here to remind everyone: “We’re not a bank.”

This simple, yet powerful, message is the cornerstone of our latest ad campaign, boldly titled “Not a Bank.” The spot aims to both satirize the formulaic, inauthentic approach to big bank advertising, and bring attention to the ways in which community credit unions differ.

“With the ad, we wanted to create a piece that was equal parts entertaining and informative,” says Malcolm Critcher, director of the “Not a Bank” spot. “It actively prompts the viewer to consider how credit unions are fundamentally a different approach to managing your money.”

Director Malcolm Critcher on the set of “Not a Bank”

Throughout the pandemic, trust for local credit unions has grown. They have demonstrated their support for member-owners by waiving fees and offering assistance to those struggling because of job loss, health issues, or other factors that impacted them financially. In 2020 alone, Vantage West waived more than $800,000 in fees with pandemic-related fee waivers and provided more than $27 million in SBA PPP loans to specifically help their local Businesses Members. This is one way that credit unions differ from financial institutions with a “profit-at-all-cost” philosophy.

The ad begins in familiar territory, with a buttoned-up narrator stiffly addressing the camera (a scene filmed in our gorgeous Cooper Square branch in Gilbert). But his buzzword-filled pitch about how banking “should be” is quickly interrupted by a Member in line, who proceeds to take ownership: “Dude, you know this isn’t a bank, right?”

With the artifice now broken, our new host takes us on a tour of notable Arizona settings, set to a soundtrack by one of our region’s most beloved bands: Calexico. Throughout the spot, our host reminds us “this isn’t a bank ad” while she rattles over the myriad ways in which Vantage West helps the community thrive.

Filming a scene from “Not a Bank”

With “Not a Bank,” Vantage West aims to differentiate itself from the impersonal, profit-focused mentality of the big banks by demonstrating a commitment to the community’s financial well-being. Rather than simply pay lip service, Vantage West decided that the spot would feature only local actors and business owners, such as musician Sergio Mendoza and Maria Mazon of Boca Tacos (who happened to win Top Chef’s Restaurant Wars the same week the ad debuted).

“Not a Bank” features Easter eggs hidden throughout the ad that highlight more than 30 Arizona businesses, giving a nod to the local ownership that characterizes credit unions like Vantage West and sets them apart from the big banks.

Community empowerment isn’t just a slogan. For Vantage West, it’s a business model.

Since our early days operating out of a one-room barrack at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Vantage West has been inextricably tied to its southern Arizona roots. And while the credit union has grown, expanding all over the state, the mission remains the same.

“We noticed many banks are trying their best to create a community feel in their ads in an attempt to counter the big business perception surrounding them,” said Luis Soto, Marketing Manager at Vantage West Credit Union. “What’s special about our campaign is it subverts that theme in a way that is very authentic to us.”

See the ad for yourself and explore all the local businesses featured at: WereNotABank.org.

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