Free checking and cash rewards are great, but if you've leased space on digital billboards across town at a time like this, isn't there another message more pressing to share with the people of Bakersfield?
Strata Federal Credit Union decided there was.
On the day before St. Patrick's Day, just as concerns were rising locally that the new coronavirus was about to spread in Kern County, Strata's marketing team scrambled to have the billboards reprogrammed as a way of providing a modicum of encouragement.
By the next morning, no fewer than 19 brightly lit billboards were telling people something that had little to do with opening new accounts and a lot to do with instilling community confidence.
"Tough Times Don't Last, Tough People Do," read the signs, which also feature Strata's logo and an image of the iconic, yellow-and-blue Bakersfield sign.
The billboards are the latest signs of hope in a city that prides itself on resilience and support for community.
On Monday, the Bakersfield Marriott at the Convention Center did its part to lift spirits during the pandemic. It left certain room lights on to spell out the word "HOPE" for people viewing the hotels' south-facing side.
The move followed numerous acts of goodwill, including generous donations, by local businesses, government agencies and nonprofits. But few are as visible or intangible as Strata's billboard messages.
"I personally think it's great," said the president and CEO of the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce, Nick Ortiz.
"We really do come together when times are tough," he added. "We have the ability to work through this."
Strata's marketing manager, Michelle Garland, said the credit union chose to switch out the digital campaign's messaging because the times seemed to call for optimism.
It didn't cost anything extra because Strata had already leased space on the billboards, she said. Of course, it did mean abandoning their earlier text, but she said people probably weren't focused on their banking options anyway.
"Really, it was (that) we just wanted to put something positive up there," she said, "Everyone’s experiencing this at the same time and every day it’s all unfolding."
The message is visible on electronic billboards as far south as Panama Lane, north to Merle Haggard Drive, west to Coffee Road and east to Fairfax Road.
Once images of the billboards showed up on social media it became evident viewers were responding enthusiastically, Garland said. It has garnered some 20,000 "likes" and 350 shares, she said.
She was unaware of a similar marketing campaign in times past. Then again, she said there hasn't been a phenomenon like what the community is going through now with the pandemic.
"I’ve witnessed tough times before but this one was just so far-reaching," she said. "We’re all fighting with this one."