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VANCOUVER, British Columbia – With the launch of its latest advertising campaign VanCity Credit Union stands out as the first Canadian financial institution to use mainstream media to make its pitch to the gay and lesbian community here. “This isn’t about singling out any group or encouraging or discouraging any kind of lifestyle,” said VanCity CU Manager of Corporate Affairs Alexandra Paproski. “This is about openly recognizing the lesbian and gay community and acknowledging their right to equality, respect and dignity, both in society and as members of VanCity. This is about embracing the diversity of our community and about asking for their business because we think we have something to offer.” As part of the credit union’s ongoing marketing strategy to target a specific niche of potential members, two print advertisements kicked off the campaign, which is scheduled to run through November and will include bus shelter advertising. Designed by Grey Worldwide Northwest Advertising, one spot features a couple named Allan and Chris, both VanCity members. They are pictured together with their hands clasped and the words: “I want to bank with people who value all partnerships.” A similar ad features a lesbian couple. The ads also highlight VanCity’s track record in supporting homosexuals with copy that reads: “We were among the first to implement industry-leading workplace policies that respect all families by including same-sex employee benefits, because it was the right thing to do.” Since 1988, long before most organizations, VanCity implemented progressive workplace policies including anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies. In addition, since 1995, the credit union has been title sponsor supporters of many gay and lesbian events and AIDS related issues. “This was the right time to let this community know that we have been here for you and we are staying here,” said Paproski. “We want to be the financial institution of choice for not only the 75.000-100,000 gay and lesbians in the community but all their friends and family too. This campaign is just an obvious complement to all our other efforts over the years.” According to Paproski the reaction to the ads has been “absolutely overwhelming” with the positive out weighing the negative comments 3 to 1. The comments have ranged from “I didn’t know your credit union was so gutsy and bold, so my partner and I are moving all our business to you” to “My son/daughter came out 10 years ago and we accepted it and these ads give us another sense of safety.” Paproski says even those with “strong opinions” have simply asked, “Why are you doing this?” “When you take a risk like this you hold your breath and think what will happen, how will it go,” said Paproski. “And we are breathing a huge sigh of relief because the reaction has been mostly positive and even generated a lot of interest from marketing and advertising companies complimenting us for being so cutting edge and creating these ads that are just so tasteful. Our employees have told us that these ads are yet another reason why they are proud to work here. All of this just reinforces that this campaign was the right thing to do. VanCity CU serves 280,000 members and is Canada’s largest credit union. [email protected]

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