South Texas credit unions are not altering their marketing strategy as they continue to take banking pot shots following the failure of the $13 billion Guaranty Bank. For one, the $496 million Velocity CU of Austin said its “bank schmank” radio and billboard ads have been well-received by the public and represent another phase of Velocity’s safety and soundness marketing campaign. The bank schmank t-shirts have been particularly popular, according to Carol Cain, senior vice president of marketing. “We don’t see a reason to change based upon last week’s news about Guaranty,” said Cain. “The campaign is solid and still very relevant,” Guaranty was the second largest U.S. bank collapse of 2009. The fact is the past 10 months “have seen a deluge of banks in the news and so our strategy is to offer the people of Greater Austin a unique alternative to banks,” Cain said. The media stories, she noted, “have been full of news about how banks are not lending any more; we just want to ensure that people are aware that Velocity is.” Debbie Mitchell, president/CEO of Velocity, noted also that “the recent events at Guaranty are no different from what happened in the fall with Wachovia and others…We just try to serve our members well and to let others know that they’re welcome to join at any time.” Other Austin-area CEOs agreed that it’s business as usual, noting that Guaranty’s mortgage loan troubles, particularly on real estate ventures in California and Florida, were well known. Except for the probable downsizing of its corporate headquarters, Guaranty “is not a factor in this market since most of their operations were elsewhere,” commented Tony Budet, president/CEO of the $1 billion University FCU of Austin. He said his CU will continue its trusted adviser branding campaign and sees no need to alter strategy now. Similarly, Tommy Seargeant, president/CEO of the $373 million Greater Texas FCU, said it would continue its safety and soundness campaigns in ads and newsletters. He added that he deplores “foreign interests taking over U.S. banks. We should be able to handle our own,” referring to the Spanish BBVA Compass Bank, which took over Guaranty.

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Peter Westerman


Credit Union Times

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