Business

SunTrust feels your financial pain, will air its first Super Bowl ad on Feb. 7 in effort to help

BY TONY ADAMS

tadams@ledger-enquirer.com

A screenshot for a teaser for SunTrust's Super Bowl 50 ad.
A screenshot for a teaser for SunTrust's Super Bowl 50 ad. (SunTrust on YouTube)

SunTrust Banks believes way too many people aren’t living life to the fullest because of too much debt, and it plans to air its first Super Bowl commercial Feb. 7 in hopes that it can help, the Atlanta-based company said Tuesday.

The 30-second ad, dubbed “Hold Your Breath,” will direct customers — and, naturally, potential customers — to the website, onUp.com, where consumers can take a “mental wealth quiz” and receive information and “tools” to assist them with getting on track financially.

“Financial stress is prevalent, affecting the health and happiness of people across the nation,” SunTrust Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Williams Rogers said in a statement.

“Lack of confidence about money matters steals the fun out of life. You’re not truly living until you can breathe easier about your finances,” Susan Somersville Johns, the bank’s chief marketing officer, said in the statement.

James Manley, SunTrust regional president, whose territory includes Columbus, via email stressed the need for action locally.

“The average debt per Columbus resident is over $30,000 and the area ranks 19th for the worst credit scores in the U.S.,” he said. “Financial stress is impacting Columbus residents across a wide range of incomes, and keeping them from fully engaging in their lives and realizing their dreams.”

Credit reporting company Experian, in its sixth annual “State of Credit” report for 2015, lists the average debt per consumer in Columbus at $30,601, with each holding an average 1.81 bankcards with an average balance of $4,513. The average Experian VantageScore is 640.

In comparison, Atlanta consumers each have average debt of $30,827, with $4,813 on each card and a score of 652; Macon consumers carry debt of $30,090 apiece, with $4,302 on each card and a score of 639; and Albany is listed the second-worst in the nation with average debt per consumer of $29,217 and a per-card average balance of $4,199, with a score of 622.

The U.S. average debt per consumer is $29,093, with per-card balances of $4,404 and a score of 669, the Experian report said. The best cities for managing credit are clustered in the upper Midwest, with four of the top six in Minnesota. At No. 1 is Mankato, Minn., with average debt per consumer of $27,374 and per-card balances of $3,473 and a score of 706.

SunTrust Banks does business throughout the Southeast and as far north as West Virginia and Washington, D.C. It is the top bank in Georgia in terms of deposits held — more than $45 billion — according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s June 30, 2015, snapshot. In Columbus, however, it is third in market share (11.2 percent), behind Columbus Bank and Trust (63.4 percent) and Wells Fargo (11.8 percent). SunTrust has five standalone bank branches here, along with satellite branches in Publix supermarkets.

On Tuesday, SunTrust also said a recent survey by it found about 40 percent of Americans don’t have at least $2,000 set aside for rainy-day emergencies. More than 60 percent of millennials — those born roughly between the early 1980s and the early 2000s — don’t have such a fund to rely on should unexpected expenses occur.

Super Bowl 50 is being played Feb. 7 at Levi’s Stadium in San Francisco. CBS officials have said 30-second spots during the heavily viewed NFL championship this year will top out at $5 million. The Denver Broncos will take on the favored Carolina Panthers for the title.

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