When the $122 million North Coast Credit Union of Bellingham, Wash., ran its “bailouts are for boats” ads, it wasn’t out to chart new marketing territory but simply to convey a message that CUs are a financial alternative.“There was no ‘mad as hell, I’m not going to take it any more’ attitude or any groundswell of people beating down our doors to open accounts, but the ads did generate plenty of positive feedback in our community, and that’s what we wanted,” explained Terry Belcoe, the president/CEO.There was a notable increase in savings deposits, said Belcoe, as a result of the series of edgy ads, including one titled “No Golden Parachutes,” comparing managers of banks and CUs. “Why should your bank’s CEO get a golden parachute while the rest of the bank nose dives?” asked the copy. At North Coast, said the ad, “our CEO is dedicated to making trustworthy, member-focused decisions just like we’ve done for 70 years.”There were three ads in the series, which ran in Skagit County newspapers from November 2008 through January 2009, and “all of the feedback we received was positive including that from the credit union community,” said Belcoe.Belcoe said he read about NCUA and state regulators objecting to CU ads in Texas and California with an antibank tone, but “we never received any objections.”North Coast, he noted, is state chartered, and the Washington Department of Financial Institutions never mentioned the CU ads. “Frankly,” observed Belcoe, “I think regulators have their hands full these days” on other matters.–[email protected]

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