WaMu Sends 14,000 Teachers to a Broadway Show
Washington Mutual was two-for-two this year, with another program from last fall’s New York City introduction.
WaMu was communicating a free checking product through advertising to win the battle for share of wallet. But the company knew that to gain and sustain market share it would need to win the hearts and minds of New Yawkers. Once again tying into the educational sector, the bank came up with the idea of buying every ticket (28,000 in all) to Broadway on a single day, something that had never been done before (we were surprised, too). “We wanted to do something simple, easy to understand and impactful,” says Cheryl Di Re, Washington Mutual’s senior vp-marketing. “This was totally and thoroughly a day that celebrated teachers.”
Students and parents nominated teachers to win the tickets, filling out forms and dropping them off at the new bank branches. The three-tier billboard hung in Times Square read, “Coming Soon to Broadway: Your Teacher.”
A few weeks later, 14,000 New York City-area teachers received a letter and a Broadway Bound booklet (that could be used in class) describing the program. Through a dedicated ticketing system set up with TeleCharge, the teachers used a unique PIN code enclosed with the Bound booklet to order two tickets to any Saturday matinee Broadway play on November 16th. Tickets were overnighted. “You always have to balance the splashy idea with the practical messaging,” says OPTS partner Lisa Holland. “This totally engaged the community.”
On the day of the show, OPTS closed off a section of the theater district for a pre-show event starring civic officials and (life is a) Cabaret star Joel Grey amid WaMu-colored ticker tape. Thousands of teachers gushed, especially when the casts of the plays took a time out during the shows to thank the group for all their hard work and dedication. “This was the perfect New York experience,” says Di Re.
A private poll found that one in seven New Yorkers had awareness of the Spotlight on Teachers program by name, and Washington Mutual as its sponsor. The bank created fantastic press coverage from print and broadcast outlets, thousands of happy New Yorkers and a marketing platform that proved a catalyst for thousands of face-to-face interactions between WaMu branch staffers and customers.