Trying Too Hard

I just learned about Fifth Third Bank’s new “Don’t Be That Guy” promo which drives new student checking accounts.  It’s a nice account for students entering college (read more here) and comes with $20,000 in scholarships available thought their sweepstakes.  According to MediaPost, the effort, includes, in-bank and college campus signage, t-shirts, cinema advertising, online ads and the scholarship sweepstakes. In August, to coincide with the new school year, the campaign will further expand to include TV, print, online and guerrilla marketing.

Part of the campaign is educational, which is where the “don’t be that guy” idea comes in: trying to teach kids to not be the guy in college who is always broke, has huge credit card debt and bills, and never has the rent money.  To illustrate the concept – there are 5 viral videos.

And this is where they start trying too hard.

I love viral videos,  and anyone who has done one knows how hard it is to create one.  They need to be funny, clever, iconoclastic, sincere, worthy of sending on to someone (“you’ve GOT to see this!”), and somehow promote your brand or product in a way that’s acceptable.  We created a YouTube video of a time-lapse etch-a-sketch drawing of LeBron James a few years back and it got several hundred thousand views within the first month.  There was really no messaging, just something cool for the fans to enjoy.

So check out the videos from Fifth Third Bank:

As soon as I watched these, I thought:

  • These are really trying too hard to be funny, cool and viral-worthy.
  • Have you ever seen three guys living in a house like this?  Looks like it came straight out of the Pottery Barn Catalog.
  • I have a hard time imagining three college guys in matching Snuggie’s.
  • The McLovin look-alike is an interesting choice, as is the Zac Effron-esque “responsible guy” Jim.
  • I also love the assortment of chips, dips and salsa all neatly presented in colorful crockery on the coffee table.  My coffee table was a big box covered with a sheet, surrounded by dead soldiers of various kinds…

So its easy to pick apart a video that is way too slick and overproduced, with a script that was clearly written by folks in a beige conference room…but the worst part for me is that none of these videos get the real point across that you can really mess up your finances in college and Fifth Third bank has a way to help you manage your money.  If someone were to send me this video, none of the branding or education would have made it on my radar – just McLovin sitting in his Snuggie wishing he had better lines.

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3 Responses to “Trying Too Hard”

  1. David Hall on July 8th, 2009:

    definite reach on this one. this is really close to being funny and catchy but I agree with you. good concept, bad execution.

  2. David Hall on July 8th, 2009:

    They are reaching here. Doesn’t feel right. Good concept bad execution. Gotta agree with you on this one Stapper.

  3. Dave Rigotti on July 8th, 2009:

    Wow, they are trying a little too hard with the setup. The content of the video isn’t too bad, but I have a hard time seeing this go viral. Looks more like a commercial. They should have just saved some money and gone to some actual college houses and talked with REAL college students. That house looks way too nice.