RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. – The California/Nevada Credit Union Leagues are getting an early start this month on putting together their $6 million public advocacy and awareness campaign with focus group sessions being held in five cities. Apart from individual consumers, it was unclear what other participants-whether business or civic leaders-might be included in the sessions to be conducted by Strata Research in Reno, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Sacramento and Los Angeles. League officials stressed, however, that the final goal is to put together a hard-hitting ad campaign in the two states that would create a higher CU profile and demystify CU organization and purpose. The campaign, one of the more ambitious of its kind for a state league, is to begin in mid-January primarily on radio but also with newspaper supplements in major markets of the two states. “There are several general themes that will be looked at by Strata Research,” explained Patsy Van Ouwerkerk, co-chairman of the Leagues’ Public Advocacy Task Force in discussing the focus group work of the San Diego firm. Those marketing themes undergoing testing include the concept of CUs returning profits to their members, the benefits CUs extend to local communities and a CU as the ideal choice for providing an individual’s financial needs, said Van Ouwerkerk, who also is president/CEO of Travis CU of Vacaville. Once the focus group conclusions are analyzed, then New York-based Foote Cone & Belding, through its Irvine, Calif. offices can begin actual work on the ads, she said. Considering ongoing concern among CU executives in the two states about the large expenditures for an ad campaign, the Task Force has long emphasized in Webinars, town hall meetings and at their annual convention last month that care was being taken to detail how the funds drawn from a special assessment would be spent. Van Ouwerkerk said the existing Public Advocacy Task Force is being disbanded with a new one to oversee the ad campaign appointed by Diana Dykstra, the California CU League’s new chairman and president/CEO of San Francisco Fire CU. That oversight panel, being headed by Richard Ghysels, CEO of First Financial CU of West Covina, is slated to meet Dec. 13 to review the Strata research and meet with account executives from Foote Cone & Belding. Like other league leaders, Van Ouwerkerk said she has been particularly heartened by the overwhelming support given to the ad campaign by the membership. Officials have also stressed that the overall approach in designing the ads lends to flexibility to finding the right theme that will resonate with the public and be a barrier to future bank attacks in the two states. [email protected]

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