Chapters Keep Costs Low In New TV Ad Campaign

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The Miami Valley and Springfield chapters of the Ohio CU League have launched a series of low-cost TV and radio advertisements aimed at teaching area teens financial literacy.

More than 30 credit unions from the Miami Valley and Springfield, Ohio area created an advertising committee and pooled their resources for the campaign, according to Eric Gagliano, VP-marketing with River Valley Credit Union and chairman of the advertising committee. Rather than a "Got Milk?" - style campaign that taught the benefits of being a credit union member, Gagliano said everyone involved wanted to expand the CUs involvement in the community.

By teaching teens how to apply and control credit, balance their checkbooks, and know what to look for when they buy their first car, the credit union chapter could focus on the community instead of themselves.

'Do What We Do Best'

"Let's do what we do best," he said. "As credit union marketers, we need to differentiate ourselves from the rest of the financial market in a way that's meaningful to members."

Gagliano said the Miami Valley and Springfield chapters based the commercial campaign on the National Endowment for Financial Education's (NEFE) High School Financial Planning Program.

The NEFE website lists the program's philosophy as "learning about money is as important as earning it." NEFE's High School Financial Planning Program allows teachers to bring financial literacy into their classrooms. NEFE provides, free, an instructor's manual and a workbook for each student. Gagliano called the NEFE curriculum a proven and successful effort that wouldn't require creating an entirely new concept for the commercials.

"We're not educators. Who knows what we would have come up with?" he said with a laugh.

The Miami Valley and Springfield chapters produced nine separate television and radio spots with themes such as "Pay Yourself First," "Credit is a Privilege That is Earned" and "Do Your Homework Before You Buy a Car." The television spots are shown in the fall and spring with the radio spots airing on radio during the summer.

To save money, Gagliano said the television spots were "donuts," advertisements with the same beginning and ending with a hole in the center in which a different message can be placed. "It's interchangeable," he said.

Gagliano said the local affiliate of The WB was selected due to its interaction with teens and area high schools. The commercial campaign cost $24,000 and produced 294 TV spots and 440 radio spots. Gagliano said individual ad rates were inexpensive as the CUs weren't selecting the highest value markets, but where the teens were likely to be watching TV or listening to the radio. Also, due to The WB's commitment to local high schools, network sales representatives were very cooperative, he said.

Danielle Deramo is the marketing manager for Universal 1 Credit Union and worked on an education subcommittee on the commercial campaign. Deramo was aware of NEFE's program through her own volunteer work in area schools.

"I've taught it for many years," Deramo said.

The NEFE workbooks cover six units of finance: financial planning, choosing a career, budgets, savings and investments, credit and insurance. While serving as an introduction to the financial world, the High School Financial Planning Program is still very detailed such as defining stocks and U.S. Savings bonds and what a capital gain is regarding stocks.

'Preventive Medicine'

While teens are just starting to learn, there are demands on their time and what they do with their money. They still have part- or full-time jobs, use credit cards given by parents and are always busy planning for the all-important first car. Deramo has an 18-year-old son and has seen for herself the high number of credit card applications that came in the mail after he legally became an adult.

"We want to get to kids before they turn 18," she said. "It's like preventive medicine."

Deramo said in addition to the teachers, parents love the NEFE program as it teaches aspects of finance they might not know themselves. Gagliano and Deramo both said teachers have responded well to the commercial campaign with many requests for workbooks or visits from credit union staffers volunteering as teachers. Gagliano said local media also picked up the story when the commercials aired and then when CU staffers taught the courses in area schools.

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