If TruMark Financial Credit Union’s new edgy and humorous awareness campaign strikes a chord with southeastern Pennsylvania residents it could be because they scripted it.

According to Ed Kroznuski, TruMark Financial vice President of marketing, extensive research by Polk-Lepson Research Group on behalf of the $1.2 billion credit union revealed that beyond the discontent with big banks following the parade of government bailouts, the collapse of the housing market, skyrocketing interest rates on credit cards and increasingly higher fees, consumers were frustrated with the excessive compensation among those big banker executives. Yet, they didn’t feel there was a viable banking alternative.

“It resonates with locals because we took inspiration for this public awareness campaign directly from their comments and views,” said Kroznuski. “We knew nationally consumers were unhappy with big banks. And when our research revealed that local consumers were just as angry specifically about higher fees, executive compensation, closed credit card lines and raised credit card rates, we saw an opportunity especially since it seems the Wells Fargo-Wachovia merger may be finalized by November 2010.”

“The stars aligned for us,” said Kroznuski, “to make our move because our research also revealed that consumers in southeast Pennsylvania either weren’t aware of TruMark Financial or those who did know of us didn’t have an image of what we stand for. So what better time to introduce ourselves and reaffirm that TruMark is a great place to do your banking?”

The multimedia blitz included search engine banner ads, television and radio spots, billboards, ads on SEPTA buses and a microsite, www.trumark.com, that helps consumers find a local branch and provides links to the latest local and national news articles and videos that talk up why credit unions are better. The site also includes a “How Banks Betray Consumer Trust” section that features the television spots.

Kroznuski said the campaign is designed to reinforce the benefits of switching to TruMark Financial-no hidden fees, competitive rates, and superior service. Three television commercials, slated to run over a nine-week period, tout TruMark Financial as the trusted source for consumers’ financial needs and play on the consumers’ sore spot by depicting the lifestyle enjoyed by big banks’ leadership at their customers’ expense. Kroznuski said while each spot is unique, the underlying message is the same: TruMark Financial is focused on its members: “At TruMark Financial it’s about you. Your family. Your money. No bailouts. No greed. No hassles.”

“Consumers here made our job easy because we’re just visually telling their stories and positioning ourselves as a great alternative,” said Kroznuski. “One surprising thing we learned in this process is that people are not interested in ‘joining’ and ‘becoming a member,’ so if we wanted to capitalize on those dissatisfied consumers and get them to make a switch we had to focus on just how easy it is to open an account.”

Kroznuski said so far the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and the campaign has gotten people’s attention.

–mdigiovanni@cutimes.com