First Niagara

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In a crowded world of me-too checking products, First Niagara wanted to acquire new checking account customers. So we started with research to determine which features of their new product lineup were most likely to motivate customers to even consider a new bank—quite a monumental task. Despite the fact that many consumers are more-than-distrustful of big banks and less-than-satisfied with their own bank, research shows that fewer than 10% actually switch banks each year.


Our research uncovered that one product feature was more differentiating than any other: free ATMs. This research also revealed that no other bank really “owned” this territory, even though a few other competitors in each of the bank’s local markets also offered free ATMs. So we set out to claim this white space as our own, with an integrated campaign of broadcast, print, interactive and out-of-home advertising, which also complemented its direct marketing efforts. This campaign featured unusual yet real ATMs across the country to make the point that with First Niagara, all ATMs were free—from the most convenient to the least expected.


This has been the most successful checking acquisition campaign in the company’s history. In one year alone, it drove a record 77% increase in new checking accounts over BAU (business as usual).

The latest research results also show that First Niagara is indeed claiming ownership of this differentiating feature (free ATMs), with 38% of consumers in their primary markets naming First Niagara exclusively when asked “which banks in your area offer free ATMs?”