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LOS ANGELES- Southern California credit unions are finding that a cooperative advertising campaign to educate individuals about the credit union option is paying dividends. According to a study by Strata Research for the credit unions, more residents are now aware that most Californians are eligible to join a credit union and that credit unions have a network of 20,000 ATMs in the area. For example, prior to the campaign in February 2003, only 42% of non-members knew that most could join a credit union, but that number went up to 46% in June 2004 during this year’s advertising campaign. Again, before the 2003 advertising campaign, 43% of non-members said they knew that credit unions have numerous ATM locations, and, by the end of the 2004 campaign, that percentage grew to 47%. Membership eligibility and the presence of thousands of ATMs were the focuses of the campaign. When asked what the message of recalled credit union radio advertising was, 20% said it was that anyone can join a credit union, up from 16% after the 2003 campaign. Public recall of general financial institution advertising slipped a bit from 73% in early 2003 to 71% by June 2004, but recall of credit union advertising jumped from 36% to 46% without being prompted by specific ads. “Previous research found that one of the main reasons more consumers don’t join credit unions is they believe they aren’t eligible,” Kinecta Federal Credit Union Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications Teresa Freeborn, and chair of the ad task force, said. “We’ve definitely made inroads toward dispelling this myth about credit unions.” The advertising campaigns included credit unions and their affiliates from Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Ventura counties. The ads were comprised of a series of 60-second radio spots that aired on Los Angeles area stations from March to June featuring mythical creatures such as Bigfoot and the Loch Ness monster to dispel any myths about credit unions. There are about 325 credit unions in the five-county greater Los Angeles area, which is home to more than 17 million people.

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