Youth Accounts at Cedar Point have a new mascot named Junior.
“We’re going back to our roots,” said Linda Knott, Executive Vice President at Cedar Point. Knott has worked at the credit union since the early 1980s and she’s really seen the youth program grow. In 1992 the Moola Moola children’s club was introduced, and was the first youth program in any financial institution in St. Mary’s County. “It was always about teaching responsibility to our young members,” said Knott. “Barbara Horn recognized the need to provide financial education for the young people in the county. So she made it happen.”
To put this in context, Barbara Horn was about to step into the role of CEO. She was taking a marketing course at the former Charles County Community College in 1992 when she received an assignment. “We had to start up a business for the project and follow it through,” said Horn. “So I researched the Youth Account idea and found a character called Moola Moola which we could license.” Moola Moola was not only a mascot, but an actual costume worn by employees on Saturdays and at special events. “He would host birthday parties at the credit union” Horn remembers fondly. “And he attended grand opening celebrations for new branches and ATMs.”
Moola Moola was eventually discontinued by its parent company after the millennium, and Cedar Point began using Looney Tunes mascots through a partnership with Deluxe. “Looney Tunes were really great characters to have around at that time” said Marketing Manager Kristin Kauffman. Eventually, though, there came a time when those characters stopped resonating with young people. “We wanted our mascot to be able to actually give tips and tricks and talk about what’s happening in the community. Our license didn’t give us the ability to do that with the Looney Tunes characters.”
So, the credit union embarked on a mission to learn more about what its young members and their families wanted from the program. “We interviewed employees and spoke to parents.” Kauffman said. “We learned that the art of writing checks at a young age is not as important to parents as learning how to use money wisely. How to save and how to share.” Out of this, the team evaluating Youth Accounts came up with a game it could share with its young members.
“The most exciting part is our new mascot!” Kauffman shared. Junior was developed by a small team. Rebecca Whitley, an employee in another department, had designed characters like this for other groups and personal projects. Given a few points of inspiration and t-shirt colors from the Marketing team, Whitley ran with it. In Kauffman’s opinion, Whitley’s design hit a home run. “At our Annual Meeting in March, we brought Junior out as a kind of soft reveal. Our members were delighted by him and the idea behind his creation from the moment they saw him.”
The credit union’s history with the Cedar Point Lighthouse was the inspiration for the character. “Our credit union should be the guiding light for those trying to find their way” said Kauffman. “The metaphor is a perfect fit with our core values.” This is how the Junior Keepers Club was created. The concept centers around Junior and his family, who are lighthouse keepers. Through his duties at the lighthouse, Junior learns all about responsibility and accountability. “As a keeper he is also a saver,” says Kauffman. “Junior will be a great voice to help us teach youngsters in our Youth Account program about the importance of saving and social responsibility.”