Presidents Day and B-to-B Marketing

Presidents Day will always have a special place in my heart.

Scratch that – way too cheesy for an opening. Let me start over.

Presidents Day will always remind me of one of the more interesting campaign kickoffs I’ve ever had the privilege of managing.

After months of planning, MLT Creative launched the MAFS (Manheim Financial Services) MAKE MONEY WORK MORE FOR YOU campaign (a.k.a. “the Presidents campaign”) on Presidents Day, 2007.

Its purpose was to increase credit utilization among existing customers, while also driving new customer applications. MAFS’ target audience was car dealers. A division of Manheim, MAFS serves thousands of franchised and independent car dealers with short and long-term floor planning (You didn’t think car dealers paid for their inventory upfront, did you?).

The campaign was the brainchild of Billy Mitchell. At its core, the idea was to differentiate MAFS from its competition by injecting some much-needed humor and personality into the otherwise straight-laced credit industry. We did this by strapping sandwich boards on Presidents Washington, Lincoln, and Jackson that essentially said, “We’re here to work.” The juxtaposition is, in hindsight, a little ironic, given what our economy and government have been through over the past three years.

After an extensive internal communications campaign to socialize the idea and alert Manheim’s more than 80 auction locations, the campaign was launched with place-based point-of-sale, segmented direct mail, and email to current account holders and prospects at varying levels of activity, print advertising, online advertising, sales collateral, and PR.

For our efforts, MLT Creative was awarded with an AMA AMY Award in 2008 for Best B2B Integrated Marketing Campaign. However, the cherry on top was that the campaign was an enormous success for MAFS. They generated record highs in new loan originations and new loan applications that year.

Where are the Presidents now? Well, they’re alive and well, in a manner of speaking. Even during the recent credit crunch, they remained a key fixture in MAFS’ marketing efforts, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. Happy Birthday, Mr. President.