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A campaign 154 years in the making

Behind the scenes of First National Bank’s latest campaign

How it all began.
To say it started in some brainstorming session would be an understatement. Truth is, this campaign started when Herman Kountze flipped the “open” sign in 1857. You see, Kountze started a bank to help the upstart city of Omaha during an economic depression. Since the moment the doors opened, the founders of First National Bank wanted to help make their community a more prosperous place to live and do business. That sense of community pride and goodwill has lasted all the way to today.

Flash to 2011. The national economy was in a deep recession. People were out of jobs and losing their homes, while banks across the country were closing their doors.

This was no time to sell a checking account or a mortgage loan. This was a time to reinforce First National Bank’s role in the community. A time to reconnect with customers as neighbors, not numbers. A time to say “we’ve been there for you before; we’re here for you now.”

Then came the brainstorming session. The goal was clear: Bozell and First National Bank wanted to create a campaign that not only translated the stability of the bank, but also illustrated the pride they have in their community and the customers they serve. But we didn’t want the bank to BE the story; we wanted to tell how First National Bank was a PART of the story of Omaha.

There was one thing First National Bank could say that no other bank could. One message that told the story of their history, as well as their commitment to their community.

This is Omaha. And we’re proud to have been born and raised here.


The scripts.
The words for this campaign couldn’t be written in an hour. They had to unite a city. They had to tell a story. They had to inspire. Great care was taken to write a narrative that 800,000 people would understand and believe in. In total, five scripts were written. Each narrative focused on an aspect of Omaha’s community pride – sports, music, business and more.

The visuals.
To create the type of spots that would evoke strong emotion, the visuals needed to speak just as loudly and be just as dramatic as the script. The goal of these spots was to tell a story, not sell a product. So the ultimate goal was to have the spots look like a documentary, as opposed to a commercial.

The production.
After an extensive search for directors and production companies, we found the perfect match in director Phil Brown of Mighty Films. Not only did Phil have a great documentary style, but he wasn’t from Omaha. Having an outsider’s point of view would create a much more unexpected visual story. His eye for Omaha turned over stones that most locals had never seen before.

In total, production took almost three months. Only two weeks were devoted to the actual shooting of the footage, while more than two months were spent on editing and music. But when it was all said and done, Bozell and First National Bank had created an award-winning campaign that received a great response from the people of Omaha.

To view the First National Bank “Born & Raised” TV spots, click here.

“The best campaign the bank has ever done.” – Dan O’Neill, President, First National Bank

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