Libro Financial Group

Services--Financial (BRONZE)

Client Credits: Libro Financial Group
Tania Goodine, Vice-President, Brand
Tina Van Loon, Marketing Specialist

Agency Credits: Tenzing Communications
Gary Lintern, President
Mary Ellen Khan, Director/Project Manager
Steve Priebe, Art Director
Craig Flinn, Media Planner
Dan Rempel, Director Electronic Environments

Crossover Notes:
Crossover Notes: All winning cases contain lessons that cross over from one case to another. David Rutherford has been identifying these as Crossover Notes since CASSIES 1997. The full set for CASSIES 2012 can be downloaded from the Case Library section at

Crossover Note 11. The Eureka Insight.
Crossover Note 18. Keeping it Simple.
Crossover Note 20. Emotional versus Rational.

To see creative, click on the links that are embedded in the case.


Business Results Period (Consecutive Months):October 1, 2009 - December 31, 2010
Start of Advertising/Communication Effort: October 1, 2009
Base Period as a Benchmark: October 2009 Plan (based on overall business plan)

a) Overall Assessment
Libro Financial Group (Libro) is a full service financial institution - a people-based credit union serving southwestern Ontario through a network of 15 branches and online banking. Today, Libro manages nearly $1.8 billion in assets. (Footnote #1)

Before there was Libro there was St. Willibrord. In the 1950s Dutch immigrants established St. Willibrord credit union, based on the notion of shared responsibility and community support – something they were used to in the Netherlands. In September 2006 it officially changed to "Libro" – a new name that is found in the heart of "Willibrord".

It is worth putting into context Libro's competitive situation. About 30 different financial institutions, including the Big Banks, other credit unions, investment funds and insurance companies, compete for business from southwestern Ontario’s 2.5 million people (12% of Ontario's population). About 60% of the population is between the ages of 25-54. (Footnotes #5 & #6)

At the start of 2007 awareness among Adults 25-44 of Libro as a place for day-to-day banking was just 20%. And name recognition – that is the proportion of the same group who had heard the Libro name, but did not recognize it as a place for banking - was an unsettling 24%. (Footnote #4)

Anyone can become a Libro “Owner” (a member of the credit union). But like many Canadians Libro Owners may have relationships with more than one financial institution. Furthermore, Libro may not be their main financial institution.

The likelihood that the general public would choose Libro over their main financial institution for a variety of banking services was disturbingly low. We know this because a sample of adults 25-54 were surveyed at the beginning of 2007. (Footnote #4) The survey found that the likelihood of choosing Libro for:
- Personal borrowing was 13%
- Financial advice and a full range of investment products was 13%
- Main financial institution for day-to-day banking was 11%
- Business or farm banking was 16%

Owners needed to be convinced to choose Libro for their daily banking and investment services.

2007 to 2010 marked turbulent highs and lows in Canada’s financial services sector. In 2007 Canada’s Big Banks enjoyed record profits. By the end of 2008 their profits fell to par with 2005. The credit crunch that began in 2008 developed into a full-blown global economic downturn. Canadian Gross Domestic Product (GDP) declined 4.9% in 2009. Leger Marketing’s 2009 survey showed Canadian’s confidence in the banking system hovered at 84%. (Footnote #2)

The economic crisis had a major effect on Canadian consumer credit. 2007’s 2.3% growth in securitization was followed by major declines: 10.6% in 2008; 15.7% in 2009; and a further 15.3% in the first quarter of 2010. (Footnote #3)

Canada’s credit unions share of the consumer credit market is about 6% compared to over 70% for the Big Banks. (Footnote #3)

Ontario’s credit unions have the lowest penetration of members compared to other provinces, except Newfoundland. This may be due to the number of financial institutions competing in the Ontario marketplace. In Ontario, credit union membership decreased from a high of 13.4% in 2006 to 12.6% in 2009. (Footnote #3)

By any estimation this was a challenging time to grow a financial institution, and particularly a regional credit union that had recently changed its name.

b) Resulting Business Objectives
For October 2009-December 2010:

1) New Deposits: $26 million

2) Mutual Fund Portfolio Balance Growth: $6 million

3) New Owner Acquisition: 5-10%

4) Preference (likelihood of choosing Libro): +10%

5) Overall Awareness: +10%

6) Brand Attributes (versus their main financial institution): +5%

c) Annual Media Budget
$1 - $2 million

d) Geographic Area
Southwestern Ontario

1) Libro Financial Group 2010 Annual Report
2) PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Canadian Banks 2009, Perspectives on the Canadian Banking Industry
3) Bob Leshchyshen, CFA, Analysis of Canada’s Largest Credit Unions Financial Results
4) Insights Inc, 2010 Survey of the General Public (Libro Financial Group commissioned research)
5) Ontario Ministry of Finance, Ontario Population Projections Update, Spring 2011
6) Statistics Canada, Census of Population, 2006

a) Analysis and Insight
With six of Canada's largest marketing and advertising spenders in competition with Libro, simply throwing advertising at the market and hoping something would stick was not going to achieve the results we needed. The business objectives were new and aggressive - we needed an equally new, differentiated campaign to define our own voice and stand out from the banking crowd. We had to take some risks:

> We did not have a unique product offer.
> We did not have a price advantage.
> Yet we did have a unique business philosophy.
> We had Coaches instead of advisors.
> We had a unique personality.
> We promised a unique result.
> But this had to be experienced to be believed.

We had to find a way to engage southwestern Ontarians in a new conversation about their financial well-being, not about banking. To sell banking services without coming across like a bank or a mutual fund salesperson. To sell the results of a relationship - in a simple, uniquely southwestern Ontario way. [Crossover Note 18]

The Challenge:
1) People only remember what's important to them. Banking is not high on the list of what's important to the majority of people.

2) People only act on what they value. And
banking ads (unless they deliver a price or product advantage) do not generate the buzz we would need to meet our aggressive objectives.

The Insight:
Make the Libro brand more culturally interesting than any competitive banking brand and turn that interest into awareness, familiarity and engagement. Because it's the personality of Libro customers that reflects the attractive values of the Libro brand. [Crossover Note 11]

b) Communication Strategy
We wanted prospective and existing customers to see themselves and their lives in Libro advertising; to let them try us out without leaving their sofas. So instead of creating advertising messages we created 60-second mini-docs about everyday people who also happened to be Libro owners. We took risks in the length of the spots, we took risks in the talent, we moved the majority of the budget into television for the first time, and we didn't push a product or a price.

We simply had our customers do what they do best in southwestern Ontario. Be themselves. And be Libro. In this way, we helped our target audience believe that Libro could be a better and different choice than traditional banking.

We needed to find, capture and reveal the outstanding Owner experiences and use those as hooks to build trial. We did this with journalism-style interviews - the creativity was in the interview style. It wasn't a line or a trick or a catch-phrase. And it wasn't an insider-only story. Libro Owners (customers) revealed their genuine, authentic passion for outstanding service and their relationships with a Libro Coach. [Crossover Note 20]

The Secret - the stories had to be real. The likeability had to be high - and most important, not the hipness of downtown Toronto or Vancouver. The people had to be real southwestern Ontario people, telling the story of their lIfe, family, career, love, frustrations, and relationships.

a) Media Used
- 60-second television commercials
- 30-second radio commercials
- Three minute film for the website
- Online. See folder and file index.html
- Newspaper. 2/3 page black & white plus 1-colour, with community newspapers extending reach in the smaller markets.
- Direct Mail to existing customers

b) Creative Discussion
Ownership is a wonderful thing - at Libro, it's everything. As a customer, you own the credit union. Our advice helps you own your life, to better manage your money, to pay off your home, to help your kids start their adult lives without student debt. Our customers become our brand champions as a result. Their personalities reflect our brand.

So the "Be Libro" campaign became much more than a testimonial series. We filmed four Owners, and showed that good, smart, relevant, authentic people were very likely to be Libro people. They valued service, and they delivered the Libro story in a credible way; genuinely proud to be asked to represent a brand they truly believe in.

• We wanted to increase deposits - we had our Owners show their confidence in saving and managing their money.

• We wanted to increase mutual fund and mortgage business; we had our Owners describe trusted, knowledgeable Coaches.

• We wanted to have people view Libro as a viable option to banking; we had our Owners describe how the banks let them down.

c) Media Discussion
Television was the main media vehicle providing credibility and a strong format to tell the stories of Libro's Owners. The sixty-second format added impact, standing out against the usual thirty-second commercials.

Radio provided strong support, building frequency and immediacy. Local radio stations in Libro's four largest markets effectively covered the region.

Online advertising on high-traffic websites was used as a direct link to Libro's website. Rate incentives and contests were used to garner a higher click-through rate. High-impact ad formats, like page takeovers and sponsorships, were incorporated to attract attention.

a) Sales/Share Results
Libro had to compete with Canada's largest financial institutions for business; all Goliaths compared to Libro as David. None of them let up their promotional efforts during this period. Some like Manulife Bank became much more aggressive. TD Canada Trust launched its longer hours campaign. Scotiabank sought to convince us we are “Richer Than You Think”. And CIBC invited us to talk to them about our finances because “It’s Worth A Chat”.

In the first full year of the "Be Libro" campaign:

> Deposit growth came in at double the objective. (TABLE 1)

> Mutual Fund Portfolio growth was at triple the objective. (TABLE 1)

> New Owner Acquisition was in line with the +5% to +10% growth objective. (TABLE 1)

> Preference (likelihood of choosing Libro)went from the low teens to the 20% range: (TABLE 2)

> Overall Awareness of Libro more than doubled by market, as against a +10% objective (TABLE 3)

> Brand Attributes (versus their main financial institution) substantially improved.
Libro’s 2010 Survey of the General Public found that in most areas respondents felt that Libro did a better job than their main Financial Institution. And Libro was increasing its competitive advantage in most areas over time. (TABLE 4)

b) Consumption/ Usage Results

c) Other Pertinent Results

d) Return on Investment

a) General Discussion
There is a direct correlation between the business results and the rise in awareness of Libro:

— Among those 25-54, awareness of Libro as a place for day-to-day banking increased from 20% to 52% between 2006 and 2010.

— Among the 25-54 year olds who were aware of Libro, 48% mentioned some form of advertising, unaided, as the way they had heard about Libro. A further 34% recalled advertising when asked, for a total of 82% who recalled advertisements.

— 53% of those who recalled the ad campaign said it created a positive impression of Libro: an overall improvement over previous years. The campaign particularly excelled in terms of believability and uniqueness.

- Overall creative likeability generated genuine in-branch and staff buzz. They knew and recognized the stars of each commercial. [Crossover Note 32]

b) Excluding Other Factors
Spending Levels: The advertising budget was fairly consistent between 2009/10 and the years leading up to it.

Pricing: There were no discount or unusual pricing offers made during the 2009/2010 promotional period.

Distribution Changes: Libro did not open any new branches during the promotional period.

Unusual Promotional Activity: Libro did undertake an online engagement campaign aimed at younger consumers (youth and young adults up to age 24). The results of the campaign were not large enough to impact overall business results in 2009/2010.

Other Potential Causes: To the best of our knowledge, the competitive landscape remained constant through 2009/2010 - in fact, the sector became more competitive as the major banks re-focused on domestic retail growth while new entries from ALLY and ING Direct added pressure.