Arizona FCU Rolls Out New Spot Featuring Leslie Nielsen

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Arizona FCU has been running television ads featuring Leslie Nielsen since November 2005.

Although the CU is experiencing strong growth in membership in the first two months of this year, the head of Arizona FCU cautions against giving too much credit to TV.

CEO Ron Westad said the annualized membership growth rate since the ads began airing late last year is 12%. He said this increase is due to a "combination of factors."

"I wouldn't attribute all of it to the ads," he said. "We have been adding products and adding to the functionality of our Internet services. The Leslie Nielsen ad campaign is more for branding. The ads do not include a specific call to action. We are pleased with how we are performing as a credit union overall, and the ads complement our efforts."

Last fall, Arizona FCU wanted an actor to demonstrate how simple it is for members to use its products. The search led to Nielsen, an actor who has made a lengthy career playing bumbling characters.

Three Spots Recorded

Nielsen recorded three television spots for the CU, two of which began airing Nov. 15. The first features Nielsen at a grocery store, where he is told the only item he needs to access his checking account is an Arizona Federal check card. In the second ad, he walks into an AFCU branch to announce his graduation from "Computer U," which makes him a "pro" ready to use the credit union's online banking and bill pay service. "You don't need to be a computer pro" to use online banking, he is told.

The third spot, which spotlights the CU's home equity line of credit product, began airing in early April, Westad said. "This is a quick-close, second mortgage product with no fees, no appraisal, 100% equity and no cost to members," he explained.

The Credit Union Journal obtained a preview of the newest ad, which includes the following exchange between Nielsen and an actress portraying an Arizona FCU teller:

Nielsen: I'm ready to apply for my home equity loan. For verification, I brought my DNA [holding a test tube of a red liquid], my dental x-rays, a lock of hair and my boss [pointing to a man standing behind him].

Teller: Actually, I just need to ask you a couple of questions, and you'll be approved in no time.

Nielsen: It's that easy?

Teller: Everything is easy at Arizona Federal.

The original plan called for running the Nielsen TV spots for one year. Westad said the credit union has the option to add a second year, and he expects it will do so. He further expects the media buy to be a "fluid process on an ongoing basis."

"We will be able to run new content-we don't just have to keep running the same ads over and over," he said. "It is hard to measure these things, but we are satisfied with awareness and recognition the ads have brought to the areas we serve, as well as the awareness of our products. People see Arizona Federal Credit Union as a viable financial institution alternative. Our strong membership growth for the two-month period of January/February 2006 translates well to loan and savings growth."

In 2005, AFCU enjoyed 26% loan and 19% savings growth, he added.

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