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RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. – One thing those bank attacks have generated is a keen new interest in co-op advertising among state leagues, and in 2005 there’ll be an unprecedented number of them on awareness/advocacy/branding flooding the TV and radio airwaves from Maine to California. By far the biggest attention-getter – because of its $6 million cost and the commitment of its membership – is one to hit key California and Nevada markets Jan. 17 orchestrated by the leagues in those states. “It’s a pretty impressive campaign and the message they are trying to get out looks like it’s being done very well,” observed Paul Mercer, chairman of the American Association of Credit Union Leagues, in applauding the advocacy ads being carefully crafted by CEOs and marketing talent from the two states led by a San Diego research firm and Foote Cone & Belding, the big New York ad agency. The goal of the ads, said league organizers, has not been to sell products or build membership – though that would be a pleasant byproduct – but the mission is to raise awareness of what CUs are and the benefits they provide to local communities and to members. Final tinkering on the ads going into 16-18 markets is set to take place between now and yearend with scripts to be written and talent hired before ad launch-all under the watchful eye of a newly named 12-member Ad Hoc Public Advocacy Committee chaired by Richard Ghysels, a CUNA director and president/CEO of First Financial CU of West Covina. But the dazzle of the California/Nevada campaign – and its serious mission to thwart banker attacks from Sacramento, Carson City or Washington, D.C. and undertaken through mandatory dues -parallels a plethora of ambitious awareness/branding campaign by state leagues across the U.S. and most set to debut between January and March. One ad campaign already hitting the TV airwaves in Utah – and considered a hit with the public – is one started in November called the “Blue Dot-Difference Is You” series and which has already been exported to the Credit Union Association of Oregon with slightly different wording. In Oregon it’s “The Bottomline: It’s You” with 30-second TV spots featuring a friendly “Mr. Bob, the Credit Union Guy.” “Mr. Bob” is the creation of Summit Communications Group of Salt Lake City which is doing the creative and the buys for both state Leagues under guidance of Scott Simpson, the president/CEO of the Utah League. The Utah League said it is willing to license its ad package to other leagues, an offer also being extended by the California/Nevada Leagues. But all of the ad activity is hardly concentrated in the West with the Michigan Credit Union League planning an equally ambitious $2.4 million TV branding campaign in March in so-called “designated marketing areas” across the state. The league there has set a dues formula based on a $1 million matching grant of fund placement for the ads. Meanwhile, separate but smaller scale co-op advertising campaigns on awareness and advocacy were to be launched in January by Maine and Maryland both with a slightly altered “CU difference” theme. In Maryland, it’s “Maryland Credit Unions: Get the Difference” and in Maine it’s “there’s one for you” – a CU, that is. In addition, Georgia Credit Union Affiliates, which has been working on developing what it calls a “contemporary” CU message for months, said it would be launching a $300,000 statewide TV campaign in January under the tagline, “You’ll Like Us Better.” -

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