PORTLAND, Maine-The Maine CU League has launched a two-year statewide awareness campaign that touts the CU difference and hopes to change a long-held consumer perception: credit unions are not as tech savvy as banks nor do they offer the same reach and convenience.

The league is spending $800,000 on the effort that is supported primarily by five :30 TV spots that frequently portray members easily accessing their credit union, much of the time remotely. They use mobile applications, shared branches and a large surcharge-free ATM network the commercials say offer consumers more points of access than any single bank.

Many of the spots feature young adults, a primary campaign target, said league president and CEO John Murphy. "We conducted research before developing the campaign and it pointed clearly to the fact that greater access and convenience are critically important to consumers. Many still consider location before they determine where they will have their banking relationship.

"Research also indicates consumers do not view credit unions as being as tech savvy as banks, pointed out Murphy. "Younger people, in particular, do not feel credit unions have the same technical capabilities as banks."

However, research also revealed advantages for Maine credit unions in the current economic climate, with nearly 47% of the state's population being credit union members, one of the highest percentages in the U.S., explained Murphy. "Additionally, a large percentage of our state's population is Gen Y, who will soon be entering into a key borrowing age."

'Now Is The Time'

Themed "Now is the time for a credit union," the advertising is well timed, said Corporate Marketing Manager Debra Trautman, coming on the heels of the anti-bank sentiment surrounding Bank Transfer Day. The commercials position CUs as trusted, local financial institutions.

Trautman explained that the new effort replaces the league's previous image campaign that touched on some of the same issues, however not aggressively touting the convenience of credit unions nor their advantages over banks as does the new advertising. "The new campaign paints the whole picture of greater access, total convenience, and a trusted local financial resource."

A number of state leagues in the last two years-such as the Pennsylvania CU Association, the Connecticut CU League and the League of Southeastern CUs-have taken a more aggressive tone with their advertising regarding CU and bank differences. Jon Paradise, governmental and public affairs manager for the Maine league, agrees those messages are needed today. "Credit unions are still the best-kept secret in the financial services industry, and we need to let more people know that now is the time to join a CU."

The campaign includes an updated microsite (http://mainecreditunions.org/greater-access/) and mobile credit union locator, as well as a strong social media presence. The campaign is funded through a combination of the league dues and voluntary contributions.

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