Campaign Focuses On Key Bank, CU Differences

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As part of its ongoing brand identity promotion, Jeanne D'Arc Credit union here has launched a significant advertising campaign comparing the focus of banks to that of credit unions. The campaign, which uses billboards, newspapers, postcards and direct mail, is rumored to having bankers grumbling.

"We want people to know that their focus is building the shareholder dollar and ours is on the family," said Michelle Silveira, VP-director of marketing at JDCU, a community chartered CU with $600-million in assets.

She said the ads are simple and straightforward with the newspaper blurbs that highlight the CU's higher savings rates, lower loan rates, fewer fees and personal attention not offered by most banks. In one ad, they ask, "Wouldn't it be nice if your financial institution was more concerned about your profits than their own?"

Its billboard ads use less words but send a powerful message. For example, one of its revolving billboards illustrates "Their Focus" with a picture of a high rise building, and "Our Focus" with a picture of a smiling family. The tagline reads: "Great Rates. Convenient Locations. Legendary Service. We are Jeanne D'Arc Credit Union."

Silveira said this is the first time the credit union has used billboard advertising and has been extremely pleased with the response. "It hasn't been cheap but we are getting a lot of miles out of them. The more we hear, 'I saw the billboard,' the more we know we are reinforcing who we are."

She said the entire brand identity campaign launched more than 18 months ago cost "well over $150,000."

The identity campaign was triggered by the results of several focus groups that asked people's perception of credit unions.

"What we found out was that people know what a credit union is but still have that misconception that they have to work for a certain company to belong to one.

Jeanne D'Arc, the nation's fifth oldest CU founded and named for Joan of Arc in 1912 as a community credit union, feels confident that this campaign is making strides to change that misconception. Its newspaper ads list the 16 cities one can live or work in to be eligible for membership at JDCU.

The credit union's campaign was also mentioned in a newspaper article in the Boston Globe. Silveira said she heard that area bankers weren't pleased that the CU was mentioned at all, but they were happy about the overall article because it focused on the non-taxation of credit unions. "The way we saw it was that we got some press and some advertising for free."

While this particular campaign is dwindling down in the next month, Silveira said it will be followed by a "Tip of the Iceberg" campaign that highlights products and services. "If you think our rates are great, that's just the tip of the iceberg," she said.

Silveira said the CU plans to conduct more focus groups next year to determine the impact of its campaigns. In the meantime, she said, "I hope other credit unions are doing things as well to get the word out. I think it's really a plus for (our industry) that we can all work together so well."

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