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EAST LANSING, Mich. – A $2 million co-op branding campaign started a year ago on radio/TV and print by the Michigan Credit Union League is producing healthy gains in nonmember awareness and service, according to league officials. Addressing the league’s annual Marketing Conference here, Darren Cameron, chairman of the league’s MCUL Cooperative Advertising Forum, said recent survey results of 1,400 households shows the image ads produced a 15% gain of nonmembers’ understanding they can join a CU and a lower but still positive 7% increase for members. “We launched the campaign in 2005 with four specific objectives in mind,” Cameron told the league conference. “First, we wanted to enhance awareness of credit union differentiation and relevance; second, reinforce the perception that credit unions offer superior service and third, reinforce the message that credit union membership is open to all.” A fourth goal, he said was to encourage consumers “to take the initiative and look for a credit union to join” and the survey results show that all of these objectives have been realized, said Cameron, who is vice president of marketing at USA CU in Auburn Hills. A “call to action” Web site – lovemycreditunion.org – “was visited by a statistically greater number of unique visitors after the spots began airing,” said Cameron. Ad awareness for CUs “increased significantly by late 2005 compared to 2004,” he said, noting a jump from 48% to 56% in a year’s time. Nonmembers were significantly more likely in `05 than `04 to think of a credit union, he told the conference. The awareness results are as follows: * deposit account (36% in ’05 vs. 25% in `04); * personal loan/line (36% in `05 vs. 23% in `04); * mortgage/refinancing (19% in `05 vs. 9% in `04); * Financial planning (15% in `05 vs. 6% in `04); * Best customer service (62% in `05 vs. 53% in `04). During the East Lansing conference, Michigan CUs were being asked to sign up a voluntary dues commitment for the 2006 campaign and on that front, league officials said its goal is to bring in 65% of its membership, up from the 55% current level. “Together, cooperative image advertising with individual credit union marketing and advertising efforts, are beginning to make a difference,” said a league letter which went out this month to CEOs. “Like any effective legislative advocacy program, successful branding requires a strong, sustained effort,” the letter concluded. “To accomplish this, credit union leaders must begin to recognize brand campaign investments as voluntary dues assessments, rather than a marketing expenditure.” -

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