With a little dark humor, Texas Dow Employees Credit Union has launched a public service education campaign on the site bankwithtexans.org that asks locals one question- "Why should Texans bank with out-of-state carpetbaggers?"
Last year TDECU was criticized and admonished by the NCUA, the FDIC and the Independent Bankers Association of Texas for its safe and sound campaign that revolved around the concept that money and investments are safe if trusted to credit unions. According to the regulators, the campaign's implication was that deposits in banks are not as safe as deposits in credit unions could foster "public alarm and potentially threaten the stability of the deposit insurance system." And the state's independent bankers were offended because the campaign seemed to lump local community banks that weren't participants in risky big banker practices.
"I've done a lot of thinking since our last campaign, and I honestly regret not clearly differentiating between the failures and mismanagement at the national mega-banks and the strength, trustworthiness and integrity of the great independent, Texas-based and Texan-owned community banks," said TDECU President/CEO Ed Speed. "This time around I hope there can be a change in the tone of the conversation between Texas credit unions and community banks because there's an enemy that is bigger than both of us out here."
The campaign focuses on out-of-state banking giants that took taxpayer money while paying themselves bonuses. According to Speed, research found that local consumers judge that national banks acted irresponsibly and feel that they, the taxpaying consumers, are the ones paying for that irresponsibility.
"The idea of carpetbagger banks goes back to how in the mid-1990s out-of-state banks, with taxpayer-supported FDIC subsidies, came here like carpetbaggers [who] descended on Texas after the Civil War. I wrote an editorial about it then, so we're just taking another shot at it over 10 years later," said Speed. "Look at what's happening down here: the big banks just are not lending like before, and the BBVA [Bilboa Banco Viscaya Argentaria] purchase of a local bank resulted in the termination of its entire commercial lending staff. These are mega-banks that wouldn't notice if a flea bit them or not. How can banks that size care about you?"
He said that is why the core message of this campaign is that it does not matter if consumers choose a bank or a credit union, "just please bank locally with good folks you know and trust." He added that the great local community banks and credit unions are invested in better serving consumers' needs.
The site provides links to the latest giant bank TARP news and shines a spotlight on local banking good guys-which includes community banks. Speed said the move is in keeping with honoring the generations of Texas bankers that have provided financial services to Texans during good times and bad, long before credit unions came on the scene.
Consumers are also encouraged to share their mega-bank nightmare stories and great local bank and credit union experiences. The site also features three videos that use humor that range in messages from bank locally to kindly suggesting big bankers go home. One spot even likens the FDIC's sale of $13 billion Texas Guaranty Bank to Bilboa Banco Viscaya Argentaria to another invasion by Spain, while "El Deguello," the song played by General Santa Anna during the siege on the Alamo, serves as the background music.
In addition to the Web site, TDECU has launched a media blitz that includes a mix of online and social networking media approaches and newspaper and television advertising. The credit union ran its BBVA spot during the Dallas Cowboys-New York Giants Sunday Night game at the new Cowboys Stadium.
According to Speed, the plan is to saturate the market with the spots each running 180 times during a three-week period on television.
"I'm a native son of our great state, descended from many generations of Texans and this campaign is about Texas pride and getting the great service Texans deserve from local credit unions and banks they can trust," said Speed.