June 6, 2023
Putting the Pig on a Pedestal
The piggy bank as we know it is over 800 years old. Yes, you read that right — banks in the shape of pigs were first used in Java in the 12th century. Over the centuries, archaeologists have uncovered many piggy banks from many different cultures. Germans latched on to piggy banks not only for their simple frugality but also because they believed pigs were a symbol of good fortune. And thanks to German immigrants, piggy banks made their way over to America, where they’ve become a timeless symbol of saving dough.
Even with the piggy bank’s continued presence in American culture, as a general rule, Americans have a hard time-saving money. According to Bankrate, only 43% of adults in the US would be able to afford a $1,000 emergency expense. High costs of living and inflation haven’t helped people save their funds the way experts say they should.
In 2008, Michael Ferrari (currently SVP Fintech Sales & Market Development for Third Eye Advisors) had an idea: What if there were a product that made saving money easier and, if possible, fun?
Ferrari and his business partner Jon Gaskell (now Director of Business Development, NYDIG) put their heads together and developed the first iteration of SmartyPig, a program that gives customers a high-yield, goal-based savings account that helps them shore up funds for important purchases and life events — a down payment on a house, a new car, a wedding, or a vacation fund, to name a few.
The project took on a new life of its own, becoming a major presence on social media platforms and winning multiple awards for its consumer outreach. The SmartyPig brand has changed hands several times since then, and has finally found a home at Sallie Mae.
Over the last few years, the team at SmartyPig has grown an impressive online following, conducted multiple sweepstakes with hundreds of thousands of entries, and has leaned consistently on Trabian’s creative services group for the work behind it all.