Not Convenient? New Ads Aim To Dispel Perception

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The CO-OP Network is preparing to roll out a new campaign that will aim to dispel the myth that credit unions aren't as convenient as banks.

This year's campaign will be the fifth annual cooperative advertising program, known as COAD. Under the program, The CO-OP Network contributes to the costs of the advertising, as do the member credit unions in the network. The goal is to split costs 50/50.

James Hanisch, executive vice president for the CO-OP Network, told The Credit Union Journal the themes in the previous four years were more regional in nature. This year, he said, the campaign will be trying to deliver a more consistent and focused message.

"We are firing up for our fifth campaign; soliciting participants as we speak," said Hanisch. "We are a pure cooperative, credit union owned, and we are helping our clients and ourselves build a national brand for credit unions."

"Each year, we refine the advertising program a bit," he continued. "We started out ad hoc and regional, as many of these things do. We are trying to standardize and focus the message. Given the competitive situation between banks and credit unions, we think it is a good time to be focused."

Hanisch said the campaign will promote the CO-OP Network's surcharge-free network of more than 19,000 ATMs- "With 20,000 coming soon," he added.

"You hear people say credit unions are not as convenient as banks. The best way to dispel that myth is to use positive language. As a measurement versus any banking company out there, because of this network most credit unions-small, medium or large-are prepared to offer a more convenient delivery system than even the largest banks."

Due to the high cost of television advertising-both producing spots and purchasing air time-the cooperative advertising program will stick to radio, billboards, print media and bus ads to get the message across.

According to Hanisch, media buys will depend on which CUs participate in the program. For example, if credit unions in Denver contribute, COAD will focus its dollars there, rather than another city in Colorado. "Unfortunately, we don't have unlimited funds," he noted.

The current campaign will be winding down through the end of 2004. The next campaign, the one being prepared now, will be for 2005. The calendar is not strict, however, as new advertising in some markets will begin in the fourth quarter.

As for tracking, "We have done focus groups and surveys in some cities in the past, but we need to do more," said Hanisch. "For the upcoming campaign, we will be working with participating credit unions to do more follow-up and value assessments."

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