Picture showing Sun National ad featuring Abraham Lincoln



Abraham Lincoln is brought back to life with the latest
Sun National marketing campaign aimed at ‘Generation Y’ consumers
who put their Blackberry and internet connection at the forefront.
Charles Davis spoke to Mike Dinneen and Noel Devine at the bank’s
marketing division about targeting young consumers.

In some New Jersey commuter trains, passers-by receive quite a
shock these days: a lifelike image of Abraham Lincoln wearing a
Bluetooth headset staring out the window with the other commuters,
or George Washington on a Blackberry.

The iconic US presidents symbolise
money, of course, and Sun National Bank, a $3.6bn retail bank based
in Vineland, New Jersey, put them to work in a truly innovative
campaign aimed at Generation Y. The tagline: “It’s your money. Now
it’s mobile”.

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Sun National Bank says the unusual
image succeeded in getting attention with younger customers, many
of whom are addicted to their mobile devices. To grab the attention
of the upwardly mobile, Sun National created a unique mobile
banking package, and then began wrapping trains and buses in
advertising that depicts the presidents as commuters.

The result, not surprisingly, was a
lot of buzz for a new product set that represents a strategic shift
for Sun National, said Mike Dinneen, vice-president and segment
marketing manager, and Noel Devine, senior vice-president and
director of marketing at Sun National. Dinneen and Devine were
heavily involved in the creation of both the mobile product and the

“It was about the mobile banking
product’s evolution, which was redefining accessibility through a
new channel for us,” Devine said. “We were looking at a
sophisticated customer base with heavy use of smartphones, a lot of
commuters and a real emphasis in our research was on time, on
maximising available time.”

Sun National joined forces with
mobile banking technology giant mFoundry to create a three-pronged
strategy including SMS text alerts, web browser application and the
Blackberry/iPhone mobile platform.

“Our customers want accessibility
as much as anything – branch location, telephone, ATM, and letting
people do more with their time,” Dinneen said. “Our research led
quite naturally to the commute as a place where customers can
really see the benefits of mobile banking.”

Sun lets customers use its mobile
service for free or they can sign up for ‘Sun on Hand’, which
bundles mobile banking with some extra benefits for a $5 monthly
fee. Most ‘Sun on Hand’ customers never see that fee, though,
because every time a customer uses a debit card, they earn a $0.15
bonus, up to a $10 monthly limit.

“The ‘Sun on Hand’ product came
straight out of research on Gen X and Gen Y, but on Boomers as
well,” Dinneen said. “They want a blend of mobile, bill pay and
debit. It’s a paperless account with all the benefits of mobile,
and it also refunds ATM surcharges.”

That’s aimed squarely at Generation
Y – those born from the late 1970s through the late 1990s, who may
not have as much to deposit as older customers, but who will one
day comprise the affluent market. Sun sees potential in growing
that market because of the efficiencies inherent in these younger
customers, who rely heavily on debit cards and rarely visit

The presidents-with-a-Bluetooth
look – irreverent, humorous and symbolic – appeals to that
demographic but they also provide inspirational leadership, Devine

“They are synonymous with cash,” he
said. “People get that instantly, and while they thought it was
funny, it was about more than just humour. We were conveying that
money is now mobile.”

Sun National worked with
advertising agency, The Brownstein Group to create the campaign,
which places a premium on humour and says not a word about product
features or pricing. It’s about setting a tone, and the reliance on
mass transit certainly reaches the mobile banking market.

“New Jersey is a commuting state,
heavily travelled, so commuting comes out early whenever you talk
to customers – so the message in motion was a theme. It’s all
mobile, after all, and the message had to be linked to transit,”
Devine said.

Besides wrapping trains and buses,
Sun pursued its younger target audience by using non-traditional
media, including 15-second spots on Hulu, an Internet television
service, and Pandora, an Internet radio service.

The Hulu ad might be the most
iconic of all. In the spot, a woman is about to make a card
transaction when an out-of-breath Abraham Lincoln runs into the
shop, screaming “No! Your balance!”

After he catches his breath,
Lincoln tells the shopper to check her phone, where a Sun National
alert tells her that her cheque hasn’t cleared yet.

“I’ll just transfer from my
savings,” she says, moving money around on her smartphone while Abe
admires the scene, pulls on his vest and walks out.

“This campaign takes a mobile product and elevates it to a
branding level,” Dinneen said. “The tagline is more of a connection
with the brand attitude. We’re not trying to show the details of
what mobile banking is with screen shots. The need for money is
still the same – the way it’s delivered is being redefined.”