The unflattering references to outside banks play on "buy local" sentiments, further fueled by what Marshall describes as a "backlash" against national banks and Wall Street after the financial crash. The ad campaign has undoubtedly contributed to BOAA's very healthy growth: assets have increased 43 percent in the two years the ads have run. Marshall, however, does not want to overemphasize the ads' impact; he notes that the bank has long supported community activities and that it gives its customers personal attention. (Recently, for instance, he himself helped a customer who lost her checkbook over the weekend.) Also a factor, adds Cliff Sheldon of Ann Arbor State Bank, is BOAA's acquisition two years ago of the former New Liberty Bank in Plymouth. Though the two are competitors, Sheldon credits BOAA with "helping all the local banks by their copy."
Bank of Ann Arbor has "become very passionate about social media," says Marshall. He points to another popular Facebook competition: people "like" BOAA in order to "vote" for their favorite nonprofit; the winner receives a donation from the bank. Like the billboards, it's another clever way to urge people to bank the BOAA way.
BOAA will open a Saline branch sometime this fall. Perich & Partners has already rolled out some clever "headlines" to draw potential customers there. Those silly non-local banks, goes one effort, think "Saline is currently playing Caesar's Palace."
[Originally published in July, 2012.]