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TACOMA, Wash. – The credit union message is going rockin’ this month as a group of 21 Washington/Alaska CUs debuts a series of TV ads with a youthful theme, a catchy music jingle and a new logo-”Together, Better.” “If you’re not a contributor to this campaign, you should be,” urged John Annaloro, the president/CEO of the Washington Credit Union League, after delegates attending the windup session of the League’s annual conference howled with laughter after viewing a “pilot” ad which featured so-called “hip rockers.” The lead CU creator of the year-long TV ad series, Kevin Foster-Keddie, president/CEO of the Washington Employees CU of Olympia, contends the campaign – costing $535,000 and which promotes advocacy and new membership – capitalizes on the state’s unparalleled success with shared branching. “We have the best coverage in the country,” crowed Foster-Keddie during a breakout session in arguing that achievement can be extended to member penetration while also conveying a positive CU image in the face of bank attacks. Foster-Keddie, who developed the new ad series in cooperation with marketing directors of the participating CUs and a Seattle agency, Ed Steenman Associates, said he is convinced that “television is the place to be-that’s my vision.” With some glee, Foster-Keddie told the panel session “the bankers haven’t seen these ads yet” adding he is anxious to see their reaction. The first flight of 30-second ads which Foster-Keddie says are a takeoff on the quirky “Something About Mary” movie and were to start appearing on two network stations in the Seattle market-CBS and ABC -with the debut ads airing on the Washington Huskies-Notre Dame football game Sept. 24. “We tried to create something a little different and offbeat with an appeal to young people that starts off with a folksy ballad on a guitar and then progresses to rock which is much like the music of today,” said Steenman. The goal, he said, was to “shatter the perception with young people that a credit union is something that Mom and Dad used but is a bit stodgy like a bank,” explained Steenman. The message about “together and different” fits the non-profit pitch, said Steenman, with the humorous ads marking a different message from mundane bank commercials many of which sound the same with no fee and free checking promotions. In describing the campaign to fellow CU executives, Foster-Keddie said there will be last minute tweaking of the ads underway to add CU logos plus minor graphics changes but the campaign is set to have its biggest local audience during the Super Bowl Feb. 5. The cost for those ads is $40,000, said Foster-Keddie. The Olympia CEO said the ads will not run during the Thanksgiving-Christmas holidays “because TV is too expensive,” but will resume in the New Year. Washington CUs are also planning to use the jingle in radio ads, he said. Like previous TV campaigns in Washington State which focused on shared branching, the current set remains voluntary and there are no plans as in California to make it mandatory, he said. Members of the League leadership including smaller and medium-size CUs repeated their praise for “those top two or three credit unions” willing to shoulder a major part of the expense of the TV campaigns. Beside Washington State, included in that large CU mix have been BECU, Seattle Metropolitan and Alaska USA FCU. Annaloro said the ad’s emphasis on youth is important since “in all seriousness, it is the youth of America that will have the next lifetime to spend with our credit unions.” Regarding shared branching, Foster-Keddie released data showing Washington State has 47,000 residents per shared branch outlet followed by Arizona with 52,000, Florida with 121,000 and California with 158,000. -

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