How do you talk to a Millennial? Through reality shows of course! Setting out to be the “Survivor” of the banking industry, Zions Bank has come up with a 7-part reality series where young contestants compete for a $10,000 grand prize.

Complete with cheesy host, this reality web series has a total of ten contestants conducting “Money Saving Mayhem” to win the “Cheapster Challenge”. Alliteration aside, can this new marketing technique really work?

After pouring loads of money into researching the 13-28 year old market, Zions Bank has learned that the Millennial crowd has not gotten a good handle on effective money-management, and sometimes turn to “extreme budgeting behavior” according to a press release.

The show is set up with challenges along with saving/spending tips highlighted throughout. In their research, Zions learned the Millennial is not very confident with their money management, and see proper banking skills as a low priority.

Zions Bank Thinks Outside of the Bank

I have to commend Zions Bank for their hefty marketing attempt; after all, this isn’t just your average free student checking account mailer or free pen with credit card. But with such a big deviation from traditional advertising efforts, there is also large potential for failure.

The Good: From a marketing standpoint, Zions did an excellent job integrating social networking with the actual campaign. They created a facebook page for the series and even designed a separate website solely for the show. Clearly there was a lot of thought and talent that went into this campaign.

It’s also refreshing to see money talked about in a different way than boring brochures and presentations. I think it’s great that Zions Bank has embraced creativity to break the monotony of the financial industry, the only problem is it’s hard to pull off cool versus hokey.

The Bad: Okay, this series is painfully cheesy. That’s the risk marketers run when trying to connect with a younger crowd. Although the execution is pretty topnotch, the message may still misfire. Reality TV is notoriously scripted and fake, Cheapsters is no different — a problem when you are trying to gain the trust of consumers.

Frankly, this seems like Zions Bank is trying too hard to appeal to younger customer. Their second episode revolves around the team diving into a dumpster to retrieve items that are worth a different amount of points. Millennial’s may not have the best relationship with their banks, but showing them a web series of people digging through trash for money isn’t going to inspire better banking.

Here is the episode below:

How to Talk to a Millennial

Millennial are intelligent and tech savvy, they’ve had advertising shoved down their throats since day one. Zions Bank made a valiant effort trying to appeal to the Millennial but it would of been more effective to invest more money into their mobile app. Offering direct deposit on mobile phones or a personal finance management tool would have been a better option for actually attracting new Zions Bank customers.

I am interested to see what the readers think!

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