Best Of Show

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The marketing department at First Entertainment Federal Credit Union is on a roll. In the first four months of 2005, the CU's marketing efforts have garnered recognition from three organizations, including its haul of 18 awards in the CUES' Golden Mirror Awards competition, including the Best of Show.

It has also won three Gold Awards (first place) from the Service Industry Advertising Awards for its newsletter, new member kit and branch posters. From the CUNA Marketing Council, First Entertainment was awarded five Diamond Awards for first place in the newsletter, plastic card art, print advertisement, electronic marketing and point of sale categories, as well as six awards of merit for electronic marketing, complete campaign, website, statement inserts and direct mail. The credit union also picked up two awards of merit in the latter category.

In the Golden Mirror Awards, First Entertainment received eight first place nods, three for second place, six awards of merit and, topping the list, the Best of Show award for its "Thumbs Up" home equity line of credit promotion.

"We were very surprised, humbled and honored to win Best of Show," said Roy MacKinnon, First Entertainment FCU's vice president of marketing. "It was the first time in the organization's history we had done so, which added to the excitement. Jon Paulson, our marketing manager, handled the home equity line of credit campaign. It was his award."

First Entertainment swept two award categories in the Golen Mirrors-complete campaign and point of sale materials-in its asset size, he added.

MacKinnon traced this year's cascade of marketing awards to a decision made two years ago to hire Redbeard Communications, a Hollister, Calif.-based marketing and advertising consultancy.

"Since we brought Redbeard on board, they have done a wonderful job of positioning the credit union the way we thought of ourselves-as inside the [entertainment] industry and having our finger on the pulse of the industry."

The CU indeed has close ties with movie and television production. Of First Entertainment's 10 branches, three are on studio properties, including two on movie lots at Warner Brothers and Paramount.

A big part of First Entertainment's branding-which MacKinnon refers to as "rebranding"-efforts in recent years is visible in its collateral materials and its dip into advertising. In 2004, the CU bought space on billboards for the first time. It also purchased print ads in trade journals such as Daily Variety, Hollywood Reporter and Below The Line, the latter a publication geared to those who work behind the camera.

"We have a variety of different touchpoints," said MacKinnon. "We launched a direct mail campaign aimed at company contacts for our SEGs. We overhauled our website."

One of the largest marketing efforts was a poster campaign at all 10 locations, he continued. The posters highlighted the different types of members in the industry: a model, a producer, a stuntman and a sound mixer, for example.

"We used identifiable jobs and came up with headlines and copy to match. The tone was tongue-in-cheek and sassy. We can do things a lot of credit unions can't do," said MacKinnon. "Not because they don't want to, but because their membership might not respond well to such a tone. Our members like it."

For example, the home equity line of credit campaign that bagged the GMA Best of Show features a twenty-something man with a baseball cap on backwards, smiling while he holds his raised left thumb to the camera. In white lettering, the slogan: "In this town, some people spend a lifetime seeking approval." Below, in orange: "You, on the other hand, already have it."

Other snappy slogans include: "Give your finances a facelift," "Our consolidation loan is like plastic surgery for your finances-it makes your bottom line look more attractive," "Get a loan. Then brag incessantly," and, juxtaposed with a picture of a beautiful young woman, "To tell you the truth, I'm in this relationship for the money," followed by "Our Savings Certificates earn more, and that's something anyone could learn to love."

As for the all-important question: what is the net effect on the CU's bottom line from this award-winning marketing effort, MacKinnon said it is too soon to tell.

He said First Entertainment FCU has had double-digit growth in lending and savings products for the past several years, including before the push started. However, he said it will be a positive, eventually.

"We haven't been able to quantifiably attribute our success to marketing, but we have had a lot of positive feedback from our members-much of it unsolicited-and our SEGs. And we've won honors from various groups. These things tell us we've struck a chord. Long-term, we think it will pay off."

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