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Michigan Credit Union League Home » Information Services » Publications » Contact » 4th Quarter » NOW is the Time  

NOW is the Time

CU Difference Campaign Takes Advantage of Prime
Opportunity for Credit Union Promotion

Since their introduction in the United States, credit unions have received relatively limited coverage in the news media. Traditionally, Wall Street banks have filled up many more pages than credit unions. But when the financial crisis of 2008 took hold The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today and many more papers across the country rediscovered credit unions. Since then, many stories have circulated that point out how credit unions are conservative, don’t make risky loans and have stepped up to help their members through the economic downturn.

Nearly 18 months later, the national media continues to highlight credit unions. Recent examples have included morning television with “Good Morning America” and the “Today Show,” letting viewers know that credit unions are their best option for student financing and credit cards. 

This positive media coverage, coupled with the growing quarterly numbers on loans and deposits from Michigan credit unions, show that the opportunity has never been greater for credit unions to push their message out to consumers. Jacob Jegher, a senior analyst with Celent, was quoted in the New York Times saying credit unions need to be aggressive in order to take advantage of the situation.

“It’s a land grab right now,” Jegher said. “Credit unions...are in a great position to grab market share, and they’re using their marketing messages to their advantage.”

The MCUL’s CU Difference campaign is the largest and most successful voluntary credit union cooperative advertising campaign in the country. In 2010, the campaign will once again appear in radio and television media markets across the state, which will dovetail with the continuing national media exposure. 

The campaign will center around two themes: “Invest in America” and the credit union difference. The two “Invest in America” television ads from 2009 will run, while a third ad is being developed that will focus on the community involvement, excellent service and innovative products – such as “Save to Win” and “Just File It!” – that are offered by credit unions. Four radio ads will be offered around the “Invest in America” theme and credit union branding.

ELGA CU President/CEO Karen Church sees the campaign as vital to her marketing message in 2010. 

“It is more important than ever to put the word out that credit unions are different than banks and a great option for consumers,” Church said. “The cooperative nature of the campaign has proven to keep the ads running longer in the media markets across the state.” 

Research facilitated by CU Growth Solutions has shown that the advertising message from the 2009 CU Difference campaign has resonated with members and non-members alike. Sixty-four percent of those polled said that they would consider a credit union for a deposit account; an eight-percent jump from five years ago. Fifty-five percent of the respondents said they understand that anyone can join a credit union. Regarding “Invest in America,” two-thirds said that they heard about the program through TV ads; this has helped translate to a record 32-percent jump from June 2008 to June 2009 in new auto loans for Michigan credit unions. As Church sees it, this demonstrates that taking part in the campaign is a must for all credit unions.   

“The survey results show improvement since we began working cooperatively on the CU Difference campaign,” Church said.  “We must work together to keep up the great work that has been started. All credit unions should try to invest what they can.”

The CU Difference campaign research and remarkable national media exposure show that there has never been a better time for credit unions to push their marketing message. CU Difference campaign invoices were sent to credit unions in their membership packets in November. Credit unions are urged to fill out the invoice and consider contributing their share or at least a portion of their share to the campaign.  The MCUL and CUcorp will once again provide matching funds up to $1 million. Last year, $182,000 went unused. A $2 million campaign would be the largest in the history of Michigan credit unions. 

If you would like more information about the campaign, visit or e-mail CU Difference coordinator Maureen Lafrinere at

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