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WACO, Texas – While the competition in Texas may be fierce, credit unions here know when to join forces. Eleven local credit unions have teamed up to launch an awareness campaign to educate consumers on the credit union difference. “We realize that we are not losing our members to the credit union down the street but to the banks with the deep pockets,” said GENCO Federal Credit Union Director of Marketing and Public Relations Taylor W. Wells. “So it made sense to do this now. We all agreed that we could gain the upper hand by simply telling the truth rather than stooping to negative ads. Even bad press is good press. Besides the fact is that there are some specific differences between credit unions and banks that are undeniable-so the banks can wail all they want but they can’t change their nature.” The advertising and education cooperative called Credit Union Difference has launched a three-pronged multi-media campaign that touts the benefits and advantages of credit union membership. Participating members include: 1st University CU, Educators CU, Texas Farm Bureau FCU, First Central CU, GENCO FCU, Heart O’ Texas FCU, Members Choice of Central Texas FCU, McLennan County Employees FCU, Rocket FCU, Waco FCU, and Waco Postal CU. “Because of their traditionally larger advertising budgets and active state and federal lobbying efforts, other financial services providers do a good job of drilling their message into consumers’ minds,” said Members Choice of Central Texas FCU CEO Lynn Talbert. ” By uniting, these local credit unions have pooled their talents, advertising dollars and creativity into portraying the exciting alternative credit unions offer consumers.” Wanting to make the most of its total $15,000-budget, the group decided to invest in creating a professional, easy to navigate Web site (credituniondifference.org) where consumers can not only learn what a credit union is but also locate their closest credit union. The campaign media mix of cable television commercials and billboards spin off the Web site and focus on the credit union difference as a viable financial service choice for consumers. Since the cooperative effort consists of credit unions ranging from less than $10 million in assets to over $155 million it was very important that no one credit union stood out on the Web site – Wells says the group wanted it to be a clearinghouse of unbiased information of “ why credit unions are the way to go.” To keep it fair credit unions are represented geographically on a map where consumers can then click on the credit union logo and be linked directly to that credit union’s Web site to find more detailed information. The move to collaborate developed from an initial marketing attempt about a year ago between Waco, Temple and Killeen credit unions, which unfortunately couldn’t work because of the differences in media and geography. Sometime in April, 2004 the Waco portion of the group asked if any credit unions were interested in marketing together. It took a little under two months for the team split into sub committees to then roll out the campaign. The committees met weekly and had complete creative autonomy over their areas. “None of us had this planned into our budget so we knew we had about three seconds to grab drivers’ attention with the 10 billboards so we wanted to keep it simple and hook them with the Web site so consumers would then visit the Web site and read about the credit union difference,” said Wells. The Web site, which will be available for a year, as the main “hub” also provides great tracking capability to gauge the three-month campaign’s success. Wells says everything from the number of hits to which credit unions were visited will be tracked. “Ideally we’d like to take the information and show how this effort has been a success and be able to include it in our budget for next year,” said Wells. The commercial spots launched on July 15 target two audiences the over 35 more mature consumers and under 25 younger generation. Again the commercials highlight the advantages of credit union membership with an emphasis on how high-tech credit unions are today as a bid to appeal to younger consumers. “It has been really nice and we wanted to be one of the first groups of credit unions to cooperatively advertise together without any prior affiliation through a league or chapter,” said Wells. [email protected]

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