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Western Union Sends Immigrants Home Via Facebook

  |  October 16, 2013   |  Comments

Western Union's Send Yourself Home initiative uses 360-degree digital photos and faux magazine covers to connect with immigrant communities in the U.S., U.K. and Australia.

western-unionMoney transfer service Western Union is using 360-degree digital photos to connect with diaspora communities in the U.S., U.K. and Australia.

The brand's Send Yourself Home campaign targets attendees at cultural events with a photo booth created by digital agency Profero London. The booth made its first appearance at the 22nd Annual Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture in Los Angeles on September 7 and 8. It will also appear in London on November 2, for the Diwali Brent Festival and in Melbourne, Australia for the Philippine Fiesta November 23 to 24.

Western Union has created Facebook events for its upcoming appearances. About 15 people have RSVP'd yes as of October 14.

The photos are posted in a gallery on the brand's Facebook page, which, strangely, also includes the ability for any Facebook user to add backgrounds and share. As of October 14, the gallery has about 175 photos.

Western Union has 173,000 likes and 8,700 followers.

Send Yourself Home also invites consumers to visit the brand's website, which redirects to its Facebook page, to enter to win a 3D printed mini model of themselves that they can, in theory, send home. There will be one 3D model winner per country. Fans can enter through November 1, in the U.S. and through the end of November in the U.K. and Australia. Western Union would not disclose how many entries it has received to date.

"The events are very focused on diasporas. Our customers that are sending money from one to another and the photos that are taken [in the booths] are pretty meaningful, like a couple recreating a wedding proposal," says Eric Markowitz, director of global digital marketing for Western Union.

"We also want to ensure the communication platform has legs beyond the event itself and we have this notion that our customers have the feeling of double belonging. Part of their culture is in the U.S. and part is back home. What better way to communicate than via a physical model of themselves that can be sent back home?" he adds.

Visitors to the site can also create a virtual magazine cover, which the brand says is "another fun way to connect with loved ones far away." In order to participate, fans click "create a cover" on the Send Yourself Home tab on Western Union's Facebook page and then choose a color theme, captions and images. They can also drag and drop digital stickers with images like flags, sports equipment, hearts and balloons.

Western Union would also not disclose how many magazine covers have been created to date. The site does not include a gallery of cover images.

A YouTube video about the promotion has about 1,000 views since it was posted September 6.

According to Markowitz, the key point of the campaign is to ensure the brand is "connecting the physical and digital world" and "making sure the physical experience is something fun for our customers."

He also says Western Union wants to make an emotional connection with its customers.

"Last year, we sent 650 million transactions all over the world," Markowitz says. "The money we're sending helps [consumers] stay connected to friends and loved ones in home countries. When we thought about that, [we realized] when they're sending money, they're sending pieces of themselves."

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lisa Lacy

Lisa Lacy is senior staff writer at ClickZ. In addition to ClickZ, her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Luxury Spot, LearnVest, MarthaStewart.com, GoodHousekeeping.com, amNewYork, and The Wall Street Journal. She's a graduate of Columbia's School of Journalism.

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