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Advertising
Spotlight on Sports Sponsorship: UNIFY Financial Credit Union & LA Rams “Financial Therapist” TV Ad
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by CHELSEA HINKEL

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A best practices case study highlighting the use of humor and a signature sponsorship to promote financial products and services

For year-two of their sponsorship with the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams, UNIFY Financial Credit Union worked with Adrenaline to build on their humor-based advertising campaign using LA Rams’ John (JJ) Johnson III to promote the brand and several key checking products through unique ticket giveaways, meet-and-greet opportunities and other exclusive Rams/UNIFY branded materials. So, who’s ready for a little couch time?

This 30-second television spot, featuring Rams strong safety John Johnson III served as the lynchpin for the program as a successful follow up to last year’s campaign which leveraged Johnson’s delivery for humorous impact. The spot played upon the familiar trope of a marriage counselor with clients in session. Only in this funny twist, a uniformed football player served as the financial coach to a fictional woman named Angela and her own money as a personified partner played by the same actress.

The feuding pair (Angela and Angela’s Money) work out their issues in session as John Johnson III serves as the helpful, informed mediator. Johnson finally gets the two on the same page by suggesting that UNIFY products and services are the perfect solution to bring the two together in harmony. Ultimately, Angela and Angela’s Money see the light, proclaim their desire to join the credit union, and are suddenly BFFs forever.

COVID Considerations: Due to COVID-19 production restraints, cast and crew needed to remain at a minimum which was in fact a scaled down production. Remote cameras were used and had to follow exhaustive protocols to keep cast and crew safe. One setting, with one setup proved to best limit risk, enabling the dialogue-forward spot to play out.

The concept was conceived out of the absurdity of having a football player-in uniform doling out the financial advice to a woman and her own money. Personifying money and having the same actress play the two roles (delineated by name tags) provided the humor through the scripting, and ultimately Johnson’s delivery. Not only was there creative pivots in copywriting and planning, shooting the spot in a COVID-19 safe set represented creativity in its resilience, as well.

Goals: While the previous year’s campaign focused on action and multiple actors engaging with Johnson, the 2020 campaign needed to realize the same type of (humorous) impact, but with new pandemic parameters at play. The spot was shot in July 2020 in Los Angeles just as the state re-opened production following the initial COVID-19 lockdowns with the spots running during the first six weeks of the NFL season.

Audience: UNIFY FCU's target audience is working professionals between the ages of 25 and 45, single and/or married, with an average income of $53K annually. The LA Rams sponsorship opened-up the brand’s appeal to a broader audience within this segment, reaching those who are football enthusiasts and giving them another reason for consideration for engaging with UNIFY.

The ad ran in-market in Los Angeles, focusing on the acquisition of Los Angeles-area millennial women, their families and friends. A location-agnostic version was also created for social to enable the expansion beyond the bounds of Southern California geography, since UNIFY’s products and services are available to members and potential members nationwide.

The target market(s) for this promotion are not only heavily saturated with financial institution competitors – commercial banks, community banks and other credit unions – but also competition coming from the volume of advertising in general. The goal was to break through the clutter using humor, familiar situations and tropes and unexpected resolution to differentiate UNIFY, elevate and leverage the LA Rams partnership and ultimately inspire consumers to engage with the UNIFY brand.

Results: The friendly, confident tone translated into a funny spot that hits the right tone and tenor. Given the COVID reality with all of the consumer fears surrounding money, this spot was focused on having members feel that UNIFY is confident and approachable at a time of great uncertainty. This spot provided a breather and break or respite from some of the fears surrounding COVID.

Increasing brand awareness and leveraging the LA Rams brand/fan base to reach more of UNIFY’s targeted audience in the LA market, ABC reported 250k impressions and CBS reported 86,000 impressions, both for A18+. The spot was also distributed on additional platforms to attract, including social media, newsletters to local SEGs, and YouTube pre-roll ads prior to Rams/NFL video content. Additionally, the as was shared by both the Rams and John Johnson III through digital channels, leveraging partners to increase brand awareness even more.


Adrenaline is an experience design agency that creates and implements end-to-end branded experiences through creative and environmental design. We enhance our clients’ customer experiences across digital and physical channels, from their branding and advertising to design and technology in their spaces. After transforming an organization’s brand, Adrenaline extends it across all touchpoints — from employees to the market to in-store environments. And, we focus on serving industries that sell human experiences including financial, healthcare, sports and entertainment.

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