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Navy Federal Credit Union Enlists MullenLowe Group


Navy Federal Credit Union, the largest credit union in the U.S. with a self-reported $106.1 billion in assets and 8.6 million members, selected Interpublic Group of Cos.’ MullenLowe U.S. and MullenLowe Mediahub as its agencies of record for creative and media, respectively. MullenLowe President Kelly Fredrickson led the pitch.

The decision follows a review that began in March, and ends the Vienna, Virginia-based credit union’s relationship with incumbent agency of record Fitzco, another IPG shop. It is unclear if Fitzco competed to defend the account; the agency did not return a request for comment.

Under the partnership, the IPG sister agencies will work on Navy Federal’s national and regional brand strategy, creative content and media planning and buying in an effort to drive new memberships and strengthen engagement with existing members. (Navy Federal serves military members, veterans and their families.)

The Boston and New York offices of the two agencies led the pitch and will handle the account going forward.

Pam Piligian, senior vice president of Navy Federal’s marketing and communications, tells Ad Age that she was impressed by the dedication of MullenLowe and Mediahub to learning “Navy Federal’s mission and our commitment to our members” by listening in on the credit union’s 24-7 hotline with members. “It’s one thing for us to talk about our service but it’s another to actually witness that particular interaction with our members,” she explains.

Piligian says during the review process participating agencies were tasked with devising a strategy to attract millennial veterans, Navy Federal’s largest untapped growth pool. She explains that MullenLowe and Mediahub won Navy Federal over by uncovering some unique and positive insights from interviews with this target group.

She notes that it was also critical for Navy Federal to keep media and creative “integrated and bundled” under one agency partner (Mediahub is a division of MullenLowe).

Navy Federal had worked with Fitzco as its lead agency on media and creative for a decade. Last year, the agency released an integrated campaign, the lighthearted “Our Members Are the Mission,” that aimed “to show the human side of military life,” Fitzco Chief Creative Officer Noel Cottrell said in a statement at the time, “to allow viewers to be a fly on the wall as active-duty military, veterans and their families have real conversations about real life.”

“We wanted an agency to grow on what we had already built,” Piligian adds. “We love ‘Our Members Are the Mission.’ It really articulates what we’re about. We’re not answering to shareholders; we’re answering to members. They are the shareholders.”

Navy Federal, established in 1933, was for decades offered to only those employed by The U.S. Navy. The credit union opened its membership to the entire Department of Defense (Navy, Army, Marine Corps and Air Force) in 2008, and then gradually expanded eligibility to veterans and military families. MullenLowe and Mediahub also count the Department of Defense as a longtime client; the agencies handle educational communications related to military service (i.e. recruitment efforts) under that partnership.

“They already knew military,” Piligian adds, nodding to the agencies’ Department of Defense partnership. “They had a leg up in knowing the member base we serve.”

MullenLowe Mediahub U.S. President Sean Corcoran added in a statement, “The Navy Federal team exhibited strong curiosity about the power of media science. … They have a keen understanding of their core consumer and an intelligent vision for how to evolve their marketing.”

According to Kantar’s estimates, Navy Federal spent $134.4 million on measured media last year and $24.6 million during the first half of 2019.

This article was originally published on Ad Age

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