<p>ST. LOUIS – Credit unions in both St. Louis and selected Virginia markets are taking advantage of large television audiences during sweeps month to spread the credit union message. In the past few years, St. Louis-area credit unions have tended to run television spots in both the spring and fall seasons. But this year, the effort is concentrating entirely on buying time in May when networks and stations slug it out for all-important ratings. Why scrap the fall buys? Because, Micki Milonas at West Community Credit Union explains, elections are looming this fall and candidates will be making last-minute media buys. Milonas, who is coordinating the purchase of commercial time, notes during the 2000 presidential campaign the credit unions saw their spots scrubbed when candidates bought last-minute time. In addition, the credit union ads sometimes ran next to a political commercial. The political ads, especially negative ones, were often in black and white. So were the credit union spots. That raised the risk that viewers, turned off by the political attack ads, would tune out the educational message about what credit unions are. "We did get caught up in some of the political advertising," Milonas recalls. "It wasn't terrible, but we decided, let's just not go there this time. In addition, we frankly didn't collect the same – nearly $68,000 this time and $80,000-something last time – so it simply won't go as far. "The (one-season) buys were a little less than $40,000 last time, and that didn't make as big a splash in the St. Louis market as we wanted. So we decided this time to really focus on the spring buys and get out of fall. We will be able to make a strong impact with our commercials focused in a three-week time frame." The credit union awareness spots, produced by CUNA several years ago, are appearing on NBC, CBS, Fox and Warner Brothers affiliates in St. Louis for three weeks this month. Airing began May 5. A tag at the end of each spot provides a toll-free phone number and Web site address for contacting the Missouri Credit Union System. The ads will appear 244 times. The 15-second spots are running as bookends – that is, a credit union spot airs, followed by one or more non-related commercials, then another credit union spot runs. "So we really get two impressions," Milonas says. "There are three different spots, and we rotate them in combination, for example spot one and two, two and three and so on." In addition to the spots, St. Louis-area credit unions are displaying lobby posters in their branches. The ads are a result of a cooperative shared cost campaign by 25 St. Louis-area credit unions along with the St. Louis Chapter of Credit Unions and three vendors. The Credit Union Awareness Forum, a group of credit union marketing leaders, decided how the money should be spent. Missouri Credit Union System assisted in coordinating the campaign. Amy McLard, MCUS vp of public/legislative affairs, emphasizes the idea credit unions must cut through the barrage of marketing messages people receive every day. "This is a very dedicated group of marketers and they feel, especially with the very competitive environment out there, credit unions have to get their message out and need to let people know credit unions are a very viable option for them," she states. In Virginia, the effort using CUNA's Comfort Zone materials got underway April 28 and will run through May 28. Total budget is just under $300,000, including $250,000 in seed money from Virginia Credit Union Services. Each ad council in the areas involved received $50,000 in VACUS funds. Additional funds were secured by voluntary donations of $100 per million in assets with a cap of $5,000, and an exemption for credit unions $2 million and under. The campaign is targeting young people 18 to 24 years old in the state's highest population areas: North Virginia and the District of Columbia; Tidewater-Hampton Roads; Richmond; and Lynchburg-Roanoke. Given the demographic target, media were selected based on their impact on young adults. Television buys focus on the Fox network. Radio stations were determined by Arbitron ratings among 18-24 year olds. Cinema ads are also being used to take advantage of highly-promoted movies such as Spider Man and the latest Star Wars. There are three goals: Boost overall credit union membership during the campaign period by no less than 10% of the average increase during periods without advertising. The Virginia-D.C. League has a goal of achieving 5 million members in Virginia by 2005. Build credit union awareness by reaching no less than 70% of the young adult target demographic with credit union advertising messages no fewer than five times during May. Provide an opportunity for credit unions to experience a successful League-led cooperative venture, measured by post-campaign assessments of CEOs and their marketers. One key to the current effort is the use of CU Match Up, the new database developed in California to link consumers with credit unions in which they may be eligible for membership. In the past, someone who called the league inquiring about credit union membership was typically transferred to a veteran staff member who relied on a stack of manuals – coupled with personal knowledge – to match the caller with potential credit unions. The new database is expected to make the job much easier. -</p> <p>[email protected]</p>

Continue Reading for Free

Register and gain access to:

  • Breaking credit union news and analysis, on-site and via our newsletters and custom alerts.
  • Weekly Shared Accounts podcast featuring exclusive interviews with industry leaders.
  • Educational webcasts, white papers, and ebooks from industry thought leaders.
  • Critical coverage of the commercial real estate and financial advisory markets on our other ALM sites, GlobeSt.com and ThinkAdvisor.com.

© 2024 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from www.copyright.com. All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.