Time machine: Everyone’s Using Our ATMs!

My first job after graduating from the University of Southern California in 1983 was working in the marketing department at First Interstate Bancorp in downtown Los Angeles. Shortly after I left eleven years later, the bank was acquired by Wells Fargo Bank.

Here’s a photo found recently in a dusty box at the back of the workshop from one of the most successful marketing campaigns my team created at the time.

So let’s take a trip in the First Interstate Bank Time Machine… to 1985 when we launched “CIRRUS” the ATM network, which allows customers to use the ATMs of other banks. Today, we take that convenience of using any ATM we see for granted – but in 1985 when First Interstate Bancorp was one of the founding banks that launched CIRRUS, it was a revolutionary idea in banking convenience.

This multi-media promotion helped educate our competitors’ customers that they could use our “Day & Night Teller” ATMs. The campaign featured “everyday” bank employees, including Andrew Perez of Corporate Banking (shown here holding the “Cirrus” Card) along with animated characters from Universal Studios, holding the ATM cards of our competitors, including Wells Fargo and Bank of America.

It was quite the challenge getting the legal and copyright clearances from all the banks, to say the least.

The window decals shown above, just one of the many advertising elements of the campaign, were installed at hundreds of the bank’s locations across Southern California.

It sure was fun and very successful, with many legendary behind-the-scenes stories that perhaps someday deserve to be told… I wish I still had a copy of the television, billboard, and radio ads… maybe I’ll find one in a dusty box somewhere!