WaMu was entering the highly competitive retail-banking market in the greater Chicago area during the Summer and Fall of 2003 and needed to quickly establish brand presence and open new accounts.
Rather than sponsoring an existing event or venue in the typical way, Opts worked with WaMu to create their own event, to a scale and with a focus that had never been seen before in Chicago or any other market.
Opts produced an attention-grabbing event that would achieve WaMu's objectives in a meaningful way — TEACHERPALOOZA: "The World's Biggest Barbeque for the World's Greatest Teachers". Washington Mutual hosted the free event on Saturday, October 18, 2003 at Chicago's Grant Park.
All 30,000 attendees were treated to:
- An Affordable housing fair
- A Multi-ethnic barbeque
- An American Idol-style teacher talent contest on three stages judged by audience applause and emceed by local radio DJ's
- A Teacher pavilion offering exclusive benefits to the large audience of teachers
- A Headliner concert emceed by local NBC News Anchor Anna Davlantes, featuring Tim McGraw and the Dancehall Doctors, Michelle Branch, Los Hombres Calientes, and American Idol finalist Trenynce.
- Each tactical element of the day was carefully crafted and integrated into a seamless and memorable program for all.
Financial Centers were flooded with first-time visitors, many who opened new accounts. During the promotional period WaMu employees would arrive to find people lined up to obtain free tickets.
Such a buzz was created there were stories on the local newscasts for weeks prior to the event. Television news and newspaper coverage provided more than 4.7 million impressions around WaMu’s market entry.
Washington Mutual reported, as a result of the program:
- Increased Brand Awareness
- Exceeded market reach goal: 80% of target households
- Total outreach: Over 1.5 million households
- Positive Relationships Formed
The event introduced the Chicago community to Washington Mutual by literally driving them through the doors of their retail centers, and providing an entertaining and memorable experience and a long lasting contribution to the community.