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‘Open Your Eyes’ won’t go dark during 2020 election: CUNA

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The Credit Union National Association may have held off launching its Open Your Eyes awareness campaign out of a belief it couldn’t compete with the 2018 midterm elections, but the trade group has no plans to repeat that strategy in 2020.

In an exclusive interview during the recent America’s Credit Union Conference in Orlando, CUNA President and CEO Jim Nussle said ads will continue to run throughout next year’s presidential contest.

“[W]e didn't want to roll it out last fall when we were in the middle of a political campaign,” Nussle said. “A lot of wavelengths are being sucked up by the politicians and the political parties.”

While that’s likely to be even more so during a presidential election, Nussle said he believes the campaign’s structure will enable it to cut through the noise. Since Open Your Eyes uses digital platforms to reach younger consumers, he said, it’s more likely to be able to make an impact during the election cycle.

“Because we’re digital first, we’re typically not competing in the most expensive space, which is television,” he said, adding that the group isn’t competing for many of the same consumers as political ads since those spots tend to be marketed toward an older demographic.

One year into a three-year push, Open Your Eyes has already surpassed one-third of its $100 million fundraising goal, with more than 250 industry groups – including credit unions, state leagues, CUSOs and others – contributing a total of $37.5 million so far.

The initiative is currently running in Minnesota, the Carolinas and Michigan, and is slated to expand into the Dakotas and Indiana this month. Eventually CUNA could expand the campaign into the Northeast and the next wave of expansions could be as early as September, according to Nussle.

“Sometimes we make changes in the hour because the point of this is to learn,” Nussle said when asked about major changes the trade group has implemented so far for the campaign. “The point of this system is for this not to be static; there's nothing static about the credit union market.”

Despite its success at attracting funding, CUNA has had to put in the leg work to convince some in the industry to get on board. Some skeptics are wary that the campaign may not work and won’t be worth their investment. Others are unsure that the campaign would work within their communities while some are wary that the effort could take away from their own marketing outreach.

But that’s not the case, Nussle assured.

“[W]e really don't want [credit unions] to think about this as taking it away from your own marketing,” Nussle said. “The marketing of a credit union is the last mile and probably the most important mile connecting that potential member with a product [or] service.”

Part of the push for digital lies in getting more bang for the industry’s buck, and that’s especially crucial in an election year, when screen time on traditional platforms like television could become even more expensive. Data from AdAge shows a 30-second broadcast spot currently runs for about $115,000.

"We're in a strong position and getting stronger," Nussle said.

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