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ST. LOUIS – The Missouri Credit Union System is budgeting more than $50,000 to seed advertising programs across the state in 2003. The matching funds campaign will help credit unions or regional groups of credit unions pay for ad campaigns that promote a general, credit union awareness message. MCUS is offering $300 to each of the 180-plus credit unions in the state. Each credit union that accepts the money must at least match the $300 and put it towards either its own ad campaign or an ad program in cooperation with other credit unions during the calendar year. Credit unions in St. Louis and Kansas have banded together successfully for similar programs in recent years. “We believe this matching funds investment will help even more credit unions in Missouri spread the credit union message,” said MCUS president Rosie Holub. “Groups of credit unions will be able to pool resources and make larger media buys, or individual credit unions can tailor smaller efforts for their community.” MCUS is not specifying how each credit union spends its grant, other than that it must go to an awareness campaign and not be used to push the individual credit union or its products. “Each area knows best what reaches the consumer in their areas,” said Amy McLard, MCUS vice president for public/legislative affairs. “So we’re counting on their expertise in knowing their communities and what reaches them best.” If a credit union doesn’t want the $300, it can transfer the grant to another credit union, which will match it and use it in a campaign. In May, 25 St. Louis credit unions spent $68,000 on a flight of broadcast television ads. Pier Alsup, vice president of Anheuser-Busch Employees’ Credit Union, said the St. Louis credit unions used ads prepared by CUNA, with the telephone number of MCUS tagged on at the end. The television ads were reinforced with lobby posters from the same CUNA campaign. Alsup said the group would likely participate in MCUS’s new matching program next year. “We’re not sure we’re building membership but it builds awareness,” she said. “We think it’s part of our duty as a cooperative to build the awareness of credit unions.” While $300 is not a lot of money, “It’s a help,” said Zelma Watts, president of $6.9-million Central Ozarks CU in Joplin and a member of the MCUS board. “My hope is that it encourages (credit unions) to get involved and get into marketing,” she said. “One of our difficult things right now is letting people know who we are and what we do . most average people don’t know what we do, and this is an opportunity to let them know.” Kirk Mondy, president of Poplar Bluff Federal CU, said he hasn’t set his advertising budget for next year yet, but he thinks he might want to put his money toward a campaign to run next year during International Credit Union Week. While he agrees that $300 is not a lot of money, he thinks it will stimulate credit unions to budget some money for an awareness campaign in 2003 and get them to thinking about cooperative efforts with other credit unions. While his credit union is the only one in Butler County, he hopes he can join with other, nearby credit unions. “It may not be the greatest thing for us individually, but there are several credit unions in nearby towns that are in the same radio (market).” -

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