The goal of the campaign "is to help our clients—the financial institutions—and the customers of our clients to understand that they do have a choice," said Susan Eick, VP of financial services marketing for Deluxe. "It's actually better for their local economy, more often than not, to write a check for local purchases than use a credit or debit card." She also highlighted that fees can be associated with using other forms of non-cash payments.
"Checks are perceived by many as old hat, or 'nobody writes checks anymore,'" said Paul Maccabee, president and co-founder of Maccabee Group, the PR agency for the campaign. "All we need to do is remind people that checks have some advantages. We want to start to alter the perception of America."
The company and Maccabee Group are doing traditional media relations to personal finance reporters and bloggers, including focusing on the results of a survey that found 75% of Americans believe they should have the freedom to pay at retail stores with whatever method they choose.
The PR-driven unbranded campaign, which launched on September 30, is the first time Deluxe has targeted consumers directly, rather than just its financial institution clients. Maccabee also noted the campaign has a specific target audience of college students, which was why the company partnered with website College Humor. The videos from the site are about Duncan Steele, who pays for everything with a check—and gets noticed by the ladies for it.
"We wanted to have a little bit of fun with this," Eick said. "We just think it's an irreverent and fun way to get attention back on a very sensible way to make a payment."
The videos are posted on YouTube and the campaign launched Facebook and Twitter accounts focused on Duncan Steele, as well as on a microsite, RightToWriteChecks.com. The campaign is also doing multimedia news releases about the campaign.
"Working with College Humor was incredibly courageous," Maccabee said. "We knew we couldn't be sober and terribly preachy" with the campaign. He also said the unbranded campaign was a deliberate strategy as well.
"We're perfectly fine with raising the tide for all ships out there," Eick added. "We have plans to continue the social media, the blogging. We're going to keep it going."