The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association, which produced cooperative commercial campaigns that successfully increased credit union membership, will launch new television and radio commercials in January, targeting young demographic groups to grow credit union loans.
“When we surveyed our members they told us one of their key struggles is loan growth,” said Michael Wishnow, PCUA’s senior vice president of communication and marketing. “These new commercials are much more specific with respect to loan growth.”
Although the commercials probably won’t produce immediate results, the PCUA said, it expects they will over time just as past PCUA television and radio commercial campaigns helped credit unions across the Keystone state gain new members over the last four years.
“Our goal is to start measuring loan growth and to see what it does over the next eight quarters or so,” said Wishnow. “Hopefully within eight quarters, if we do our job well, we will see positive movement on loan growth.”
The new commercials are a continuation of PCUA’s iBelong TV and radio ad campaigns that successfully increased credit union membership and expanded public awareness of credit unions.
When the iBelong campaign began in July 2007, Pennsylvania credit unions served 3.3 million and its annual membership growth rate was a paltry 0.5%, well below the national average of just under 1.5%.
By 2010, membership grew to more than 3.5 million, and the annual membership growth rate climbed to 2.5% in 2010, while the national membership growth rate dropped to 1%.
Pennsylvania credit union membership has continued to grow from 3.5 million in 2010 to more than 3.7 million this year. Moreover, the membership increase led to Pennsylvania credit union loan growth five times the national average and total assets more than twice the national average, according to PCUA.
“That was the genesis of iBelong, to let people know that credit unions are a better deal and that there is a credit union for everyone,” said Wishnow. “Clearly (the commercials) have absolutely worked.”
The new commercials will air on network and cable channels by mid January in six Pennsylvania media markets: Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Scranton, Erie, Allentown/Bethlehem and Altoona/Johnstown. The commercials will air continuously throughout 2013, except for the summer season when television viewing declines and the Thanksgiving-Christmas holiday season when the credit union ads would be lost in the flood of retail ads, the PCUA said.
The ads have been produced to appeal to two primary demographics: women between the ages of 25 to 49, who manage household finances, and 18- to 34-year-old adults who need loans to buy homes, cars and education for themselves and their kids.
Jim McGorman, owner of Accordion Pictures in Philadelphia that produced the PCUA ads, interviewed about a dozen credit union chief lending officers across the Keystone State to glean stories about how they helped members with loans. Those stories were used to create authentic ads that project the positive emotions of credit unions, the PCUA said.
“Consumers want to feel good about what they do and credit unions deliver that in spades,” said Wishnow. “Everybody claims to have better customer service but when we do surveys, it’s clear that credit unions win out because they take care of members.
“That whole notion and the emotion that goes along with that – that you feel like your valued, that you feel someone is looking out for your best interests – is a great selling point for credit unions that we want to continue to capitalize on.”
The commercials, which can be viewed on YouTube, will direct viewers and listeners to the iBelong.org website. The PCUA also plans to revamp and update the site with images from the new commercials and new content about the benefits of credit union loans.
“I’m pleased that credit unions across the state have joined together in this campaign to promote the credit union movement,” said PCUA President/CEO Jim McCormack. “Our goal with the ads is to inform consumers that credit unions are the best option for loans and to promote awareness about the benefits of membership. Not everyone can join every credit union, but there is a credit union for everyone.”
The cost of producing the commercials totaled $160,000, which was paid by Pacul Services Inc., PCUA’s service corporation. The television and radio airtime costs approximately $750,000. Of that total, $200,000 is paid by PCUA and the $550,000 is paid by voluntary assessments shared by credit unions across the state, the association said.