Nassau Educators Federal Credit Union in Westbury, N.Y., is managing a healthy 20% gain this summer thanks to an unusual brand hookup with the manufacturers of the Scrabble board game and Scholastic magazine."Yes, we are quite pleased that in an era of economic downturn and recession our membership growth has now exceeded 130,000, and we have opened two new branches," said Edward Paternostro, president/CEO in citing positive results of the year-long Scrabble branding.Since July 2008, the $1.2 billion credit union has used a number of catchy phrases like "spread the word," "spell out our value" and "score" to latch on to public identification to the classic board game."Scrabble is one of the country's most recognizable games. We felt this partnership gave us a real way of defining our identity," said Eileen Nolan, NEFCU senior vice president for marketing and community affairs.The CU said apart from creating an affinity with teachers as a "fun, educational tool," the Scrabble brand has also reinforced the image with the public as a CU with financial strength and stability.Nolan said the campaign supports the CU's goal of reaching beyond education professionals to also include "doctors, dentists, attorneys, accountants, as well as their support staffs and families."The NEFCU Scrabble campaign, set to run another year, centers on 30-second TV and 60-second radio spots along with print ads "all supported with initiatives of the well-recognized Scholastic educator brand."NEFCU said it partnered with the magazine "to provide teachers with a gift of a customized calendar planner that details classroom tips" while noting the easy access to benefits NEFCU membership provides on financial literacy and education.A November 2008 brand awareness study confirmed that NEFCU's "unaided awareness has doubled over a two-year period due to the credit union's integrated sales and service approach as well as its increased product line," Nolan said.That ad campaign, she said, has successfully aided broad product and service areas such as: "Go Green Checking," business loans, vehicle lending, financial literacy, safety and soundness, home banking and bill pay.Bluetooth Creative Group, a Rockville Centre, N.Y. agency that worked with Scrabble publisher Hasbro in coordinating all the trademark issues, generated the idea for the campaign, Nolan said. How much NEFCU may have paid for ad rights was not disclosed.In crediting Bluetooth, Nolan said the agency "capitalized on the idea that our shortened moniker, NEFCU, may not have been readily known in the marketplace, but that there was a real opportunity to define it against the landscape of a well-known word game."–jrubenstein@cutimes

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