Animated Characters Being Used In First Cooperative TV Campaign In NJ

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The New Jersey Credit Union League and 33 of its member CUs were expected to launch their first statewide advertising campaign with a 30-second animated television spot.

The educational commercial will air in four flights through December, according to Jessica Mikulski, PR director for the league.

The ad will be shown on TNT, TBS and The Weather Channel on Comcast and CableVision, which together represent about 95% of the New Jersey television market.

"We had a small budget but wanted (a media buy that) encompasses a broad area," Mikulski told The Credit Union Journal. "We were told that these channels have the most diverse viewership."

The ad features human figures talking about the various products and services they have received from their credit union. Footage of actual people was filmed, then in the animation process, that footage was used as a template to create the anonymous figures talking about credit unions.

"It eliminates the features, so there's no race or gender," Mikulski commented, explaining that the goal was to be as inclusive as possible.

"We realize that many people simply don't know what a credit union is. This is an education effort. We didn't want to say that credit unions are 'like banks,' so instead, we have people talking about they got a low loan rate at the credit union, for example."

The spot then goes on to say that about one-in-eight New Jersey residents belong to a credit union and prods, "So what are you waiting for?"

Using the tagline, "New Jersey Credit Unions: Making the Garden State Even Greener," the ad is designed to drive viewers to NJCUL's website. The look and feel of the commercial was created to be similar to the website, which was revamped to include a pop-up that asks "Did you see our commercial?" Visitors also have a chance to check out the commercial online. A second pop-up asks "Do you want to join a credit union?" and provides links to the CU Match-Up site.

As this is the first time the league has coordinated a statewide cooperative CU campaign, there were a number of issues NJCUL had to tackle.

"We talked with leagues that have done this, but many of them have been doing it for so long, in some cases we're talking 20 years or so, that they just didn't really remember how they got it started, so we essentially had to start from scratch," Mikulski offered. "Some of these leagues that have been doing this for a long time have budgets of $1 million or $500,000, and we're not even close to that. We had a number of credit unions who were hesitant-and rightly so-to put their money in, but we did have 33 credit unions sign on, and we're really proud and excited about how the spot turned out."

Credit unions were asked to contribute according to asset size: Under $10 million, $375; $10M-$25M, $750; $25M-$50, $1,125; $50M-$100M, $1,500; more than $100M, $1,875.

The league worked with Mint Advertising, which has worked with a number of New Jersey credit unions. "So, they were already very familiar with credit unions and what our needs and message would be," she noted. "They understood that we have a good relationship with the state banking association and that we didn't want to mess that up by making any comparisons of banks and credit unions."

Now that the spot has been completed, the league plans to send copies of it to its credit unions. "We hope that credit unions that weren't so sure about participating in this project will see how great this turned out and will consider participating in the next round," Mikulski observed.

The league has no benchmarks to use to track the ad's impact but does have a plan in place to measure its success. "We didn't have the budget to do surveys prior to launching the spot, and the league wasn't tracking hits on the website before," she explained. "But the spot is airing in four flights, so it will be on for a few weeks and then off for a few weeks, on several rotations. So, we're going to add a tracker to the website and look for spikes in usage when the commercial is running versus when it's off the air."

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