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SEATTLE — The economic crisis and the cascading bank meltdowns of 2008 kept most credit union marketing departments-along with a host of trade groups-busy churning out a torrent of safety and soundness messages on Web sites, on TV and in print.CEOs everywhere found themselves sought-after media stars on TV and radio talk shows, financial education seminars and Webinars, providing what was called a “golden moment” for the industry to promote a safe harbor theme and industry stability.Whenever another jarring bank collapse occurred-like that of Washington Mutual or IndyMac-CEOs were in demand from reporters and TV hosts to answer questions on CUs’ status and structure.They took these opportunities to calm public fears as they also made a case for consumers to switch from banks to CUs.On that score, the $8.5 billion BECU saw its daily roster of new members skyrocket; memberships doubled by the month, setting an all-time high of 8,000 in September.That feat is being followed up this month by the launch of a new $1 million awareness ad blitz led by a coalition of Washington State CUs, including BECU.The awareness campaign, like many that popped up in state after state, is being promoted under a “We’re Here to Help You” branding.Employing print, TV and radio in three major markets of the state, leaders of the Credit Unions of Washington consortium, made up of both big and small CUs, plan to express concern for the plight of worried consumers, according to officials.Meanwhile, Georgia Credit Unions Affiliates was ramping up a safety and soundness campaign in the wake of the state’s fifth bank failure in four months.The collapse Dec. 12 of the $572 million Haven Trust Bank of Duluth and FDIC sale to a Winston-Salem, N.C., bank triggered safety messages from Atlanta-area CUs as well as explanatory statements from the Georgia Bankers Association. The banker trade group blamed the failures on “prolonged” real estate difficulties and the foreclosure crisis.Overall, in 2008 the safety and soundness campaigns ran in tandem with a plethora of CU branding and awareness efforts ranging from new markets for the iBelong campaign run by the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association to the addition of new Ohio converts to the “Bob: The Credit Union Difference” campaign.–[email protected]

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