WESTBROOK, Maine -- The new co-op ad campaign launched last month by the Maine Credit Union League underscores an urgency faced by CUs everywhere: online providers and new financial players like State Farm Insurance are expanding rapidly into traditional deposit and loan markets.
As a result, leaders of the Maine league said last week they are giving their new "I Save" TV campaign its highest priority ever with a harder-edge branding and advocacy message stressing products, rates and convenience.
"All you need to do is take a look at how much business is being taken these days by ING and those insurance firms," declared Gail Richardson, chairman of the league's Statewide Advertising Committee and president/CEO of Midcoast Credit Union in Bath.
Richardson was referring to the growth of ING Direct, the fast-growing viral firm that sells an array of online CD, savings and loan products; and to the nonbank entities like State Farm.
Echoing Richardson, the President/CEO of the Maine League, John Murphy, said the two year- $800,000 "I Save" campaign becomes a necessity "when you take a look at what State Farm is promoting on their Web site--CD products, credit cards, auto loans, home equity and then take a take a look at ING Direct, a virtual bank that has drawn millions of consumers to their web."
Moreover, CUs in Maine and across the U.S. have to consider a renewed "consumer" focus by many banks and so "it is clear that credit unions are operating in an extremely aggressive marketplace which certainly requires a more aggressive response by credit unions."
As now evident, the competitive problem, added Murphy, is by no means unique to Maine.
Funding for the league's co-op ads is drawn from a mix of dues revenue from the 69 participating Maine CUs plus contributions from Synergent, the league's processing subsidiary, and from the state's corporate, Tri-Corp.
Until this year, co-op ads in Maine have been placed on a more limited, routine basis, but with new funding "we're able to get our service message out more frequently" and on a more consistent basis both this spring and again in the fall, said Richardson.
So far the feedback on the four commercials has been positive, she said, though initial tracking of responses won't come until the end of this month and again at midyear. Handling the media buys is St. Clair Media Group of Westbrook with production done by Catama Films. --email@example.com