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SACRAMENTO, Calif. – SAFE Credit Union has found that home is where a great promotional campaign begins. A creative Fall Fix-Up campaign has helped SAFE CU, in just two years, build its home equity loan provider profile. Playing on the popular television home improvement series Trading Spaces’ angle of two neighbors willing to swap houses to redecorate one room in each other’s home, the promotion has become something of an event that keeps the over $1 billion credit union’s name at the top of consumers’ minds while taking a playful approach to home improvement. “Reality television is such a big deal now and when we started this last year we had grown tired of direct mail pieces and wanted something fun. So in talking with our PR firm Runyon Saltzman & Einhorn, Inc. we came up with this idea and it’s been great,” said SAFE CU Vice President of Marketing Faith Galati. “Our interest is improving the financial well-being of our members and their quality of life and what better way to enjoy life than by making your home a better place to live?” Galati adds that the promotion has gone a long way to delivering the message that SAFE is “the place to go to unlock a home’s potential.” To get the word out, SAFE CU traded the typical direct mailings for local “celebrity” endorsements. As part of its existing media partnerships, instead of producing its own radio spots, during drive-time and certain popular programs the hosts would talk up the SAFE CU event. The deal also included live remotes to keep the buzz going. Galati says the publicity was great because no additional funds had to be allocated for the promotion. To keep the campaign fresh this year SAFE CU added a “Mars and Venus” twist: the husbands would remodel a family room in one house, while their wives would remodel a family room in the other house. The campaign tagline put it like this: “Two neighbors, two rooms, two designers, two totally different points of view.” To make entering a snap, applications could be completed on the SAFE CU Web site. The winning couples were selected for meeting eligibility requirements, which included room size, neighbor proximity and if the rooms had the greatest potential for change. As with the first year where it opted for local favorites rather than big store chains, SAFE partnered with ACE Hardware and regional interior design firm Home Interiors By Western Contract, which donated the services of two interior designers armed with a few thousand of dollars in furniture. To keep things light, SAFE also invited professional comedian Jack Gallagher to act as host. “We’ve received tremendous response. I attended a conference on diversity recently, and when people learned I was from SAFE, they replied, `Oh, you guys are the credit union that has that home remodeling event!’ ” Galati said. Contest winners Jason and Holly Cable, joined by their neighbors Tyler and Rochelle Price turned their quiet cul-de-sac into a flurry of activity during the two days of intense remodeling. They were assisted by Home Interiors By Western Contract designers Jocette Fugitt, and Jackie Givas and Casey Sharley, who advised what design strategies to follow after quick brainstorm sessions with each team. “ It interested my wife, so by default, it interested me,” joked Tyler Price, about why he agreed to compete. The two teams were not allowed to see what the other team was doing and a strip of blue masking tape marked “Men Only” cut across the Cable’s driveway. No stereotypical gender designs here as the men opted for a crackle finish and the women gave the family room a touch of plaid. Both teams were happy with how their rooms turned out and following the unveiling, SAFE CU hosted a block party with catered food from Chevy’s Mexican restaurant, an event that attracted about 100 people and included not only the neighbors, but a television news crew, workers from partners Western Contract and ACE Hardware, several radio talk show hosts and SAFE staffers. The campaign proved a success for the credit union as well. “Last year we quadrupled our equity volume, this year the first month’s data was almost triple that so our $7,500 total spent on the campaign so far has brought in about $6-9 million a month,” said Galati. “It does take a lot of detailed planning and time to get all the permits involved but it is well worth it -the staff and members loved it and the sponsors keep coming back so next year we’ll find another way to mix it up.” [email protected]

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