The interchange debate in Congress has put the spotlight-and burden-on credit unions in the nation’s capital to convey a strong message on CU structure and membership eligibility, according to Michael Beall, president/CEO of the Maryland & D.C. Credit Union Association.

That is why, Beall said, the latest co-op advocacy and awareness ad campaign, “What’s In It For Me?” carries added importance in reaching an audience that understands what CUs are all about, perhaps more than the rest of the U.S.

“Considering we do have a high penetration of folks who are credit union members in Maryland, D.C. and Virginia, we know that we have a lot of responsibility for how we communicate the message to the public,” Beall said. Encompassing radio spots, bus placards and social media efforts, the advertising blitz began June 7 and ends July 31.

As it turns out, the “What’s In It For Me?” campaign conveniently coincides with the interchange battle as CUs seek to strike the right note with lawmakers in the nation’s capital, Beall said.

The current campaign, which cost $175,000 and was designed to target Gen Y and women 25-54, is being financed by CUs in the Maryland/D.C. league as well as the Virginia Credit Union League.

“Our research has shown one thing is very clear: There is still confusion about whether and how members of the general public can join a credit union and how to go about doing it and so this campaign is aimed at reducing that confusion,” Beall said. “On this we are hammering the message.”

So far there are 90 contributors to the campaign, including district-area CUs, MDDCUA chapters, the Virginia league and a large number of CU vendors, he said.