St. Louis CUs Band Together For TV Media Buy

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More than 20 credit unions in the area have banded together to do a television ad campaign encouraging people to "Experience the Credit Union Difference."

"Only one in five people in St. Louis know what a credit union is, so we've got our work cut out for us," said Micki Milonas, marketing director at West Community CU and one of the marketing officers behind the ad campaign. "These are very family-oriented spots. It doesn't mention banks specifically, but the idea is that we have these shoebox bank branches on every corner while credit unions are a better alternative, a truly caring alternative you can trust because we're not all about profit."

The theme of the ads are "Count On Us," and the 30-second spots focus on all the ways people can and do count on credit unions.

This is the fifth year St. Louis credit unions have worked cooperatively to fund a TV media buy but only the second year they used locally-grown creative. "The first three years we used CUNA spots. They were 15-second spots, and we'd bookend them around someone elses' spot. What was nice about that is that it gave us double the impressions, but we felt like it got a little old, so we decided to do our own spots last year, and we're using them again this year."

After listening to audio tapes of several local voice talents, the CUs selected the voice for the commercial and got a pleasant surprise when it came time to dub the voiceover.

"The tapes we listened to were anonymous, we didn't know who was speaking. It turns out it was a local deejay, and he's a member of West Community Credit Union," Milonas related. "He said, 'I love you guys. I'm in there all the time, in fact, I just got my mortgage there!'"

St. Louis credit unions were encouraged to contribute $50 per million of assets as a guideline but could give more or less as they saw fit.

"Not everyone can afford to contribute every year, and it's not like we can make people participate," she noted. "Of course, credit unions that don't participate still get the benefit of the advertising, but we hope those credit unions will consider participating some time in the future."

To help drive the program, the Missouri Credit Union Association provided $300 in matching funds for every $300 invested by a CU.

"We buy TV because we feel like individually we can cover some of the less expensive media on our own, but none of us can afford to do TV well on our own," Milonas explained. "TV is the most effective, but it's also the most expensive."

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