GROTON, Conn.-Charter Oak FCU has unveiled a two-story advertisement at a local mall here that CU officials say will expose it a high number of consumers throughout the region.

The two-story, 30-foot-tall "wrap" covers three sides of the elevator at the Crystal Mall in Waterford, and features Charter Oak's logo, web address, Facebook logo and mortgage information, including that the 65,000-member, $749-million credit union has been the region's number-one mortgage lender for two years in a row. The CU also has branding on the elevator doors.

"The mall traffic, from our understanding, is several million people a year," said CEO Brian Orenstein. "This is a great way to make a big splash in southeastern Connecticut-that mall gets a lot of business, especially during Christmas season. It's going to give us tremendous exposure. It's going to make people say 'That credit union, you know, I was looking for a mortgage, an auto loan, a checking account... .'"

Charter Oak has contracted with the mall to keep the display up through Dec. 31, after which, Orenstein said, "we probably take a breath and see what kind of reaction we get. So far we've had a tremendous reaction.. ... We don't have a right of first refusal (to renew) at this point, but you never know."

Officials at the mall said that the shopping center sees 8.5-9 million visits per year, but did not have figures for the number of unique visitors. Even having started the campaign at the end of July, they said that Charter Oak's ad could easily be seen millions of times.

Orenstein declined to share the costs associated with the campaign, but stressed that "it was certainly affordable; it wasn't anything that blew our budget out of the water."

The credit union does not have any specific goals for the campaign beyond increasing brand awareness, and Orenstein said that Charter Oak will use the mall's own tracking figures to determine how many people were exposed to the display.

"You can't go to the mall without seeing this sign," he said. "If you're walking anywhere in the mall, you can pretty much see the sign."

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