What is the Worst Mistake Your Credit Union Can Make?

Woman working out on exercise bike at the gym

When it comes to your credit union’s marketing, what’s one of the worst things that can happen? Creating an ad that you think is awesome—only to find your masterpiece at the center of a social media uproar due to its perceived offensiveness. That scenario may sound far-fetched, but I’m willing to bet that most of the companies that have experienced this nightmare never thought it would happen to them. So, what’s the best way to handle it if your organization’s advertisement went viral for all the wrong reasons? Let’s take a look at a recent misstep by Peloton®.
What Peloton experienced last week went far beyond the objections of a few exercise-hating trolls. The high-tech exercise equipment company heard from thousands—perhaps hundreds of thousands—of people mocking them for becoming “tone deaf” in their advertising. Their gaffe came in the form of a new holiday ad that featured a svelte, slender woman receiving one of the company’s interactive stationary bikes as a Christmas morning surprise. The ad generated a flood of social media responses, many echoing the sentiment of one Twitter comment that read, “Nothing says ‘maybe you should lose a few pounds’ like gifting your already rail-thin life partner a Peloton.”
In the advertising circles, many suggested the ad could have been produced in better taste with a variance in creative. And while it certainly could have benefitted from a different approach, the commercial itself was not the company’s biggest mistake. No, their biggest mistake was how they responded to the criticism. How bad could it have been? Peloton’s official corporate response was as follows:
“While we’re disappointed in how some have misinterpreted this commercial, we are encouraged by—and grateful for—the outpouring of support we’ve received from those who understand what we were trying to communicate.”
So, let me get this straight. You’re “disappointed in how some have misinterpreted this commercial”? That’s about as passive-aggressive as a non-apology can get. It’s one of the worst responses you could ever give to a friend, customer, or critic. Peloton’s reaction to the criticism shows that they don’t believe they have a brand issue, and they are sorry if you feel that they do. But here’s the problem with that perspective: You can’t apologize for how someone else feels. You can only apologize for what you do.

So, what can your credit union learn from the Peloton fiasco?

  1. Know the difference between when you’ve really screwed up versus when you’ve upset an especially noisy critic. It can be annoying to receive an angry email or snarky comment from a single troll who wakes up every morning just looking for something to be offended by. While this can be frustrating, it’s not necessarily a sign that your creative missed the mark.
  2. If you find yourself in a situation similar to Peloton, own the mistake and issue a genuine apology that shows you realize where you went wrong. Then, communicate how you plan to avoid making this mistake in the future. Additionally, if your messaging hurt a particular person or group, consider reaching out to them directly and inviting them in for a face-to-face conversation to try and mend the relationship.
  3. Don’t let one mistake keep you from standing up for what you believe in. Poor judgment in creative is one thing. But if you take a stand for an issue or principle that is important to you, there will always be someone on the other side that will disagree or take offense. Know what you believe. Know why you believe it. Then, if someone challenges your stance, be gracious—but confident—in your response.
  4. Last, but certainly not least, if you make a mistake, resist the temptation to protect yourself or your company by issuing vague statements that shift the blame to the client or customer. Saying, “I’m sorry I messed up,” is helpful. Saying, “I’m sorry you think I messed up,” is not.

As the old saying goes, “A smart person learns from their mistakes. A wise person learns from the mistakes of others.” The past week was proof that, as unintentional as it may have been, Peloton made a mistake. Thankfully, we all have the chance to exercise some wisdom and learn from it.

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Reh Harvey

Vice President of Digital Strategy

Reh Harvey, our Vice President of Digital Strategy, leads with diligence and fervor. Having previously been a member of Team YMC, he is excited to return to such an amazing culture and even more amazing people (his words)! Through his experience in the marketing world, he’s found the key to success is to stay on the cutting edge and to always keep evolving.
Although originally drawn to marketing for its lack of math, Reh now finds himself doing more math than he would’ve bargained for. But his self discipline and positive attitude make it easy for him to laugh and take it in stride. Hoping to one day visit Japan and enjoy some premium Sushi, Reh lives life by his creed: Be a good human. Do good work. And above all, just keep going.

Hailey Madej

Graphic Designer

As YMC’s in-house Graphic Designer, Hailey possesses an eye for detail and a drive to innovate. It’s no surprise though since being creative runs in the family! Inspired from an early age by her mom’s work as a Graphic Designer, Hailey is a seasoned expert whose talents bring vitality and accessibility to every project. As a UX/UI designer, she expertly blends the intuitive and the creative for all to enjoy.
In addition to the occasional freelance project, Hailey also lends her abilities to supporting art initiatives within her community, such as the Belleville Mural Project. Her favorite aspect of joining the YMC team is the friendly, uplifting culture and breadth of design tasks. When it comes to marketing, she believes in pushing boundaries and maybe breaking some rules to capture her audience’s attention. Her advice to those just starting out? “Always seek quality over quantity.”

Dexter Ochoa

Development Assistant

When it comes to blending logical thinking and creative problem solving, Dexter’s abilities are undeniable! Beginning his career as a Web Developer, he’s no stranger to the wide world of Marketing and Advertising. Calling Biñan City in the Philippines home, Dexter has a burning desire to visit the Alpine peaks and valleys of Switzerland. While that journey may be far off, he is still no stranger to international travel. While visiting Japan, he was able to enjoy his favorite delicacy: Sushi and Sashimi. He also learned unexpected facts about Japanese Yen, specifically that it has special markings for the blind to know its value!

Living life by his motto to “Do good even if the world is unfair,” Dexter would also advise his younger self, “It’s hard, but you’re doing good!” Whether he’s enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning or the occasional Pale Pilsen in the evening, Dexter is eager to work with the talented professionals of YMC, and we’re just as eager to add his talent to the team as well! His marketing words of wisdom? “Be creative, and just do what you want!”

Andrew Wyche


Hailing from the NC state capital (that’s Raleigh if you didn’t know), Andrew is YMC’s Copywriter extraordinaire. That’s why he knows that “The verb form of ‘reconnaissance’ is ‘reconnoiter.’ The former is, strictly speaking, a noun.” Seriously, he knows his words and he’ll use those words to get bold and weird (in a good way) with his copy. Fuelled by a love for pasta, shellfish, a good single malt, or a meal consisting of all three, Andrew navigates life with a motto engraved in his heart: “Choose kindness. Always.” It is this guiding principle that has led him to explore the realm of marketing, driven by a desire to connect with people in meaningful ways. As he continues to chase his dreams, one bucket list item stands out above the rest – a pilgrimage to Scotland. With his heart set on adventure and his pen poised for creativity, Andrew’s journey is far from over.

Alex VanHaasteren

Senior Web Developer

Alex is YMC’s Senior Web Developer and, as the title suggests, she is an absolute pro! While she initially started in graphic design – working long and hard to expertly bring concepts to life – she also felt drawn to technology and applying her natural ability to problem solve. Web Development proved the perfect blend of her creative passion and technical savvy.

When Alex is out with friends – including her YMC colleagues – she’s up for Greek cuisine or some good pulled pork BBQ washed down with Diet Coke. Or an Old Fashioned, if the occasion demands. Someday, she hopes to go to Africa on a safari. Hopefully she’ll see a giraffe in the wild, because – as she’s pointed out – its neck is too short to reach the ground!

When she isn’t jamming out to T-Swift, she’s happy to impart some marketing words of wisdom, “Aim to create something unforgettable.” For day-to-day inspiration, she would remind you of two fundamental truths: You decide your happiness, and Ice cream is its own food group—not just a dessert.

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