From the October-01, 2008 issue of Credit Union Times Magazine • Subscribe!
Speed Calls FDIC, Texas CU Commission Claims on Ad Campaign 'Laughable'
LAKE JACKSON, Texas -- Texas Dow Employees Credit Union President/CEO Edward Speed was stunned, but not speechless, by FDIC complaints and a cease and desist order from the Texas Credit Union Commissioner regarding the CUs safe and sound campaign.<p>"They [FDIC] threatened legal and criminal action; it is just so ludicrous. The idea that this credit union is a threat to the stability of banking is laughable," said Speed. "The genesis of our campaign started July 14, 2008, when The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal had headlines about the banking crisis and bailouts and urged people to make sure their deposits were insured. I was on my way to a Callahan's conference that day and like many of us there, our phones started ringing telling us members were calling in panic."</p><p>He said within a week to 10 days of the articles coming out and being picked up by the wire service, the credit union logged over 2,000 calls and in-branch inquiries from members directly asking if TDECU was in as much trouble as the banks.</p><p>"We waited to have the bankers put something out about how consumers' deposits are safe, and they didn't say anything," said Speed. "We figured enough is enough and taped the commercials to reassure our members."</p><p>The public education campaign was designed to spread the word about the soundness and stability of the credit union industry. The message revolves around the simple concept that members' money and investments are safe--when trusted to credit unions.</p><p>It didn't take long after the campaign's launch for Independent Bankers Association of Texas President/CEO Christopher L. Williston to respond to the ads via e-mail to Texas Credit Union League CEO Dick Ensweiler.</p><p>"My community bankers are having a fit over the media blitz by TDECU. It is clearly misleading...and inflammatory in my assessment. Community banks have not played in this mess...and somehow all 'banks' are being lumped together with claims of 'taxpayer bailouts'--once again?--and safety and soundness issues," stated Williston.</p><p>"Anyone with any intelligence is quite aware that there was never one single dollar of taxpayer money spent to assist the FDIC during the dark days of the 1980s...and indeed the commercial banks have paid dearly to cover the sins of the thrift industry...but I guess facts shouldn't get in the way of a sensationalist marketing campaign.</p><p> "Additionally, I would venture to guess that the community banks in Texas are certainly at least on par with the credit unions in terms of safety and soundness, and Wall Street doesn't even know they exist. I believe this is entirely irresponsible and reprehensible behavior." </p><p>Upon being made aware of the IBAT's concerns, Speed then asked Ensweiler to let IBAT know that TDECU would be happy to reshoot the commercials to include community bankers saying that their institutions are safe.</p><p>"I thought it would be great to have a banker representative on air with us sending the message to the public that banks are safe, and we were willing to pay for the reshoot. It could have been done in one afternoon and would have simply taken a trip to San Antonio," said Speed. "We never heard a word again from them about the campaign until we got the letter from the FDIC and Texas Credit Union Commission."</p><p>--firstname.lastname@example.org</p><p> </p><p> </p>