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ST. PAUL, Minn. – Hiway Federal Credit Union is certainly not shy about boasting to members that it is better than a bank. Signs displaying headlines such as “Ironically the best place to bank in St. Paul is not a bank” and “Everything a bank does and less-30% lower loan rates” have been spotted everywhere locally from buses and billboards, to newspapers and even restrooms. “The response has been phenomenal,” said Hiway FCU Marketing Manager Cara Pingel. “New members come in saying `oh we saw your bus, your ads are everywhere!’” According to Pingel, the ads appearing on the back of up to 40 buses here has garnered the greatest response. Launched earlier this year, the campaign created by Richard Scales Advertising of St. Paul, faced the challenge of attracting new members while building awareness of Hiway FCU. “We had the task of both educating the public on how a credit union is like a bank and then positioning it as something better in the same breath,” said RSA Copywriter Dave Schultz. ” In the end, we wanted to make these ads educational, while at the same time a little confrontational.” To critics who caution that such a campaign may seem like fodder for the bankers’ renewed arguments for credit union taxation on the state level, Pingel says Hiway FCU’s record speaks for itself. “ We talked about a possible backlash when we first brainstormed the idea for the campaign,” said Pingel. “But when we thought about our position and what is our edge- it really is our rates. So we are proud to tout that and we have the documentation to back up our claim.” HFCU President/CEO Jeff Schwalen adds that the credit union’s dedication to meeting the needs of the underserved in the greater St. Paul area clearly demonstrates the credit union difference. “We have been a core credit union and so far the bankers are not coming after us to serve these areas themselves,” said Schwalen. “For our size, we really don’t have a lot of members but helping the underserved and this latest campaign has really exceeded our expectations and increased traffic into our branch.” With only one branch, HFCU has been slowly hiring more member service representatives to handle the increased foot traffic including seven that speak Hmong, which is the native language of a huge Southeast Asian base in the underserved local area. According to Schwalen the bilingual new hires have been particularly helpful in creating an internal culture of comfort that makes the branch seem friendlier. So far the $534 million credit union has experienced a 36% growth in new membership. According to Pingel, the targeted demographic – people in their mid 20s to early 30s- has a higher loan balance $15,035 compared to the general member balance of $9,954 and a higher average saving balance of $6,043 compared to $5,380. The underserved account for 4.6% of those new members, with 57.73% joining in just the last year. Pingel estimates that the underserved niche contributes about 31% of new members added monthly. The campaign is scheduled to run

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