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BURNSVILLE, Minn. – Deciding to “be onboard” as title sponsor of a local fundraising event took on a new meaning when US Federal Credit Union created an eye-catching marketing installation. The credit union, participating in the local Burnsville Chamber of Commerce’s major fundraising event – the Bite of Burnsville – was designated a 20 by 40-foot gymnasium as part of its sponsorship deal, leaving the marketing staff a bit “lost at sea” when it came to ideas on how to brand the room.The Bite of Burnsville is an annual fundraising event for the Burnsville Chamber and offers food from over 20 local restaurants and caterers plus music, raffles and a live and silent auction. But being lost, coupled with the “beach” theme already established by the Chamber, led to the group’s brainchild – a 20-foot tall cruise ship, appearing to be coming through the wall. “Beforehand, the sole purpose of the room was to let guests pay their winning bids on silent auction items,” said Marty Kelly, vice president of marketing & business development, “we wanted to create a reason for people to come talk to us, and leave with a credit union branded keepsake.” The completed cruise ship drew more interest than originally expected. USFCU representatives welcomed 300 attendees – nearly half of the total in attendance – in the two hours the room was available. Attendees were given leis and posed at the ship for a photograph, which was processed during the event and picked up at the end of the evening. “Many people kept asking when the pictures would be ready,” said Megan Primeau, USFCU senior marketing specialist, “We couldn’t print them fast enough, and even had to mail a few. The pictures were mounted to a specially designed frame, which allowed for even more brand exposure.” The ship was constructed out of vinyl banners affixed to a wood frame with the smokestack functioning as camouflage around a basketball hoop. The ship and all materials involved were produced and installed by a Twin Cities’ area company, Pinnacle Signs. “We made sure this would have multiple uses,” Kelly said. “It stores rather easily and will make a great visual for future community event sponsorships.” Enhancing the display is also under consideration. “Next time, I’m hoping to get that smokestack working,” Kelly said. -

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