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Western Union steps up new customer acquisition via first movie partnership, mobile game

Western Union and Twentieth Century Fox?s new campaign for the film ?Rio 2? highlights a shift in how financial services are now turning to mobile promotions to acquire new customers in addition to promoting their services.

While many consumers may be familiar with Western Union?s money transfer services, some may not know about the company?s bill pay options, which the campaign hopes to address. Western Union worked with Google to create a mobile microsite and game for the promotion at

?It definitely was a new initiative, [and] a different flavor for Western Union,? said Merritt Rutledge, director of digital marketing at Western Union, Englewood, CO.

?We saw this opportunity to really gamify what Western Union can offer the consumer, so [it?s] more around how can we educate and then drive loyalty and acquisition through this experience,? she said.

Gamifying mobile banking
The game incorporates scenes and creative from the film that highlights Western Union?s branch locations.

The first phase of the game encourages consumers to tap one of the film?s characters, Nico, as many times as possible in 30 seconds as he dips in and out of a picture.

Another level prompts consumers to help the character Blu pay his bills by flicking money as he flies across the screen.

Consumers who complete the game receive a promo code for 50 percent off of a money transfer and a movie-themed wallpaper.

There is also an option to click-through to find a nearby Western Union location on the company?s mobile site.

The promotion is the newest addition to a string of mobile-centered promotions that Western Union has run with brands the past year and a half, particularly for the company?s retail side of the business, per Ms. Rutledge.

Doubling down on media
The initiative also includes a heavy marketing push with location-based ads that target specific devices around Western Union locations.

Western Union is running the mobile ads on Pandora, Millennial Media and Pinsight Media?s networks.

Social media, television, radio and point-of-sale components are also being used to spread the word about the game.

A number of different banks and financial companies recently have upped advertising campaigns to promote mobile services.

For example, Tangerine recently began using search-based YouTube ads, and FirstBank rolled out a video poking fun at technology to promote mobile banking (see story). 

TV network Lifetime also integrated mobile banking into the ?Project Runway? program last year as part of a partnership with Green Dot Corp.?s GoBank (see story). 

?The primary objective is to drive that foot traffic to any of our locations across the U.S., and it looks like things are going exceptionally well,? Ms. Rutledge said.

?It?s too preliminary [to share results], but everything looks like KPIs are being met and exceeded,? she said. 

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York