MetLife has Snoopy. GEICO has the ubiquitous Gecko, and First State Bank of the Florida Keys has Moolah, the singing, dancing and environmentally friendly manatee.
While Moolah has long been known as the bank's "cash cow," appearing in front of the building on North Roosevelt Boulevard and on bank-issued debit cards, the chunky character is now being featured in a hip-hop video that doubles as a Public Service Announcement. The two-minute video was produced and directed by students in Key West High School's audio and video production classes, and will air on local television channels and is already being watched online on YouTube and www.keysbank.com.
Don Lanman, a bank vice president and director of marketing, penned the lyrics to Moolah's rap song, and then handed the project over to the students, who filmed the manatee dancing his way around Key West while singing his message of water conservation and environmental stewardship.
"This area is an icon down here for the environmental message," Lanman said, hoping the song is one that ends up getting "stuck" in people's heads. "And everybody's so serious these days, we decided to have a little fun."
The bank paid the high school class $1,000 for their work on the project, which extended past graduation for some of the seniors in Ed Smith's video production department, which runs the school's Conch 5 Studios.
The video features shots of the manatee at the Southernmost Point and dancing down the 200 block of Duval Street while singing, "I need more friends to help the world stay green -- to protect our planet and keep our water clean."
The professionally produced video is one that Lanman hopes will encourage other local businesses to consider the high school students for production needs, and thereby help the program raise much-needed funds.
Some of the students who participated have put the video on their resume and college applications, and the student in the Moolah costume has submitted the video to his application for Disney World, where he wants to work as a character, Lanman said.
Lanman hopes to get students at Marathon and Coral Shores high schools involved in additional Moolah videos that showcase other areas of the Keys, and he'll be showing the video to various civic groups in the coming months.
It is currently available for viewing at www.keysbank.com and on YouTube under Moolah the Dancing Manatee.