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With heavy attention focused on the banking industry’s loan pullback, the $540 million Georgia Federal Credit Union decided now is the ideal time to unleash a “humorous but serious” newspaper and billboard pushing mortgages.The campaign, called “Money Doesn’t Have to Be Hard to Find,” was launched on April 1 in metropolitan Atlanta and is already bringing second looks from intrigued consumers who eye the pointedly funny billboards as well as banners and posters in the branches.One billboard ad shows a student’s rear end sticking out of a washing machine as she looks for coins, while another shows a man searching under furniture cushions for loose change.The campaign, aimed at increasing loan volume on mortgages as well as home equity and autos, “speaks to our current economic climate where many lenders are cutting back their availability of credit,” said Georgia Federal. The credit union added that the branding “supports the positive press that credit unions have received as safe, secure and ready to lend during these recessionary times.”The ad blitz also comes as CUs across Georgia have stepped up their awareness campaigns to highlight CU safety and soundness as the number of bank failures has risen in the state, the most so far in the U.S. with five in recent months. The latest was the $956 million Omni National Bank of Atlanta seized by regulators March 27 and taken over by SunTrust Bank.“There’s plenty of worry out there among consumers about the economic environment and so they are indeed looking to us as a safe place to keep their money and to get loans,” said Kim Wall, vice president of marketing at Georgia FCU. “Credit unions across Georgia have all become aggressive in making the credit union case.”Regarding its, Wall said Georgia FCU is looking to increase mortgage volume by 20% as a result of the ads, which will run through June.Georgia FCU, headquartered in Duluth with 14 branches and 450 SEGS, normally lends about $3.5 million per month in mortgages and $42 million over 2008, she said.“Our goal for 2009 is at least $5 million per month or $60 million in 2009,” said Wall.Georgia FCU began working on the campaign early in the first quarter and hired Kilgannon, an Atlanta agency, to develop the creative aspects.The campaign was introduced at the branch level April 1 and subsequently rolled out in a quarterly newsletter and billboards in place by April 15. Later on, the campaign will include direct mail to members without mortgages, e-mail blasts, statement inserts, and University of Georgia radio spots.In addition to the university, the CU has an “eclectic mix of SEGs,” which also includes the Archdiocese of Atlanta, said Wall.Apart from “our tongue-in-cheek campaign,” said the marketing exec, Georgia FCU also is actively engaged in financial education and budgeting. “We’re doing a lot more school education and taking part in speakers’ bureaus in the community,” she noted.–[email protected]

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