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EUREKA, Calif. – A regional advertising campaign to promote awareness of credit unions throughout northwest California has been launched by seven credit unions in the area. The campaign comes about two years after a failed effort by the California Credit Union League to raise funds for an ambitious $12 million statewide advertising campaign. The latest effort, spearheaded by Coast Central Credit Union in Eureka, will run for 13 or 14 weeks on television and in newspapers at a cost of $26,000, according to Dennis Hunter, vice president of marketing at Coast Central. The campaign, originally set to begin Sept. 16, was delayed for one week in the wake of terrorists hijacking commercial jetliners and crashing them into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon. A third hijacked plane slammed into the ground in Pennsylvania. The ad campaign, using the “comfort zone” commercials developed by the Credit Union National Association, was timed to coincide with the new fall television season. The ads will alternate between print and TV, Hunter noted. “We’re hoping that this public awareness campaign, using these comfort zone commercials, will raise the awareness of credit unions in this area of the state,” Hunter said. “That’s our goal.” Coast Central conducted a public education campaign during the first and second quarters of 2001 which Hunter said got “a lot of good positive reaction from people here.” The campaign utilized 15-second television spots. “It was designed to get people to become more aware of what a credit union is, how comfortable they can be in a credit union and to just get people talking about credit unions,” he said. The “comfort zone” campaign follows a similar theme. It is designed to strengthen relationships between credit unions and their current members as well as attract new members. “It uses the analogy of being comfortable with your financial institution to illustrate the national brand slogan, `America’s Credit Unions: Where People are Worth More than Money,’ ” CUNA noted. “ The credit union brand proposition, developed through consumer research, can be stated simply as: `Your credit union treats you with respect, as a valued member. You can trust your credit union to look out for your interests, because credit unions are founded on the principle of caring about people, not just money,’ ” it said. CUNA has made the TV, print, billboard and radio commercials available to credit unions and state leagues. Hunter said the seven credit unions participating in the new regional ad campaign had originally voted to support the California league’s statewide effort and decided to go it on their own when that effort was killed. “ All the credit unions here had voted to participate in that but it didn’t happen,” he said. “So we thought why don’t we just do it on a local basis.” Participating credit unions are in Humboldt and Del Norte counties in the northwest corner of the state. “Since we’re somewhat isolated from the rest of the state and we have a field of membership that encompasses these two counties, we thought why don’t we do it here,” Hunter said. He added that the program could serve as a pilot for the rest of the state. One advantage the campaign has is that advertising rates are less expensive in the area than in more populous areas of the state. The $26,000 earmarked for the ad campaign will pay for 30-second television spots in prime time and during sporting events and news programs and 5-column-by-13-inch ads in a daily newspaper and a weekly paper. The ads will alternate between print and TV on a weekly basis; the print ads will switch between the Sunday paper and the weekly every other week. “We’re excited about it,” Hunter said. “I’m anticipating we’re going to be successful. I think it could start something here. Maybe we could do something like this every year.” At the conclusion of the campaign, the league is scheduled to conduct an awareness survey “so we’ll be able to track our level of success,” he said. Credit unions will split the cost of the campaign based on a formula involving number of members and total deposits. Coast Central, with 47,000 members and $390 million in assets, is the largest of the credit unions participating and will pay the largest percentage. “We’re going to be paying a good portion for participating, but we’re willing to do that,” Hunter said. Other credit unions participating include California State Federal Employees Credit Union #10 in Eureka, Community Credit Union of Southern Humboldt in Garberville, DENOCOS FCU in Crescent City, Northern Redwood FCU in Arcata, and branches of Patelco and Provident Central CU, both in Eureka. [email protected]

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