Credit Union Central of Ontario launches campaign

Credit Union Central of Ontario launched its first system-wide ad campaign since the early 1980s this week to appeal to a younger audience and position credit unions against major banks and trust companies.Credit Union Central is a financial services co-operative and...

Credit Union Central of Ontario launched its first system-wide ad campaign since the early 1980s this week to appeal to a younger audience and position credit unions against major banks and trust companies.

Credit Union Central is a financial services co-operative and trade association for about 450 member credit unions that serve more than one million Ontarians.

For a number of years, member credit unions had been unable to agree on a unified campaign, but maturing and declining membership and changing legislation forced the issue this year.

Bill 134, which received royal assent this past June, takes effect the beginning of 1995.

It updates the 1976 legislation that credit unions and caisse populaires have been operating under and will allow them to compete head to head with banks and trust companies.

Under the bill, credit unions will have fewer restrictions.

They will be able to set up subsidiaries, sell shares to the public, have business and public sector institutions as members, and offer a wider range of financial services, particularly in the trust area.

George Scott, director of marketing for Credit Union Central, says the campaign positions credit unions against other financial institutions with the message that credit unions function just as banks and trust companies do and that the only real difference is membership.

At credit unions, the customer is also a member in a democratically run, one-person, one-vote system managed by a volunteer board of directors.

Through local control, credit union deposits and profits are reinvested in the communities they serve.

Scott says because membership growth has slowed and research has shown that members are aging, Credit Union Central is trying to rejuvenate its membership by targetting young adults aged 25 to 34.

He says that age group can be persuaded to switch financial institutions, because, unlike older adults, they are still relatively uncommitted to one company.

The advertising message focusses heavily on mortgages, loans and how credit unions have demystified the processes and are more flexible.

Scott says this approach will appeal to the target because the age group is at the stage in life at which they are setting up households and looking for those financial services.

The advertising campaign was created by Ambrose Carr Linton Kelly of Toronto, newly hired by Credit Union Central last November, and uses television almost exclusively.

Ten 15-second commercials have been created to run in four flights, each about nine to 10 weeks through to spring 1996.

Additional creative may be added, but the original executions will continue.

The flights have been scheduled for high-reach periods and times of the year when many financial decisions are being made.

A 1-800 number is featured twice in each spot, including a super for the last three seconds.

The Royal Ontario Museum, although not identified, is the background for the commercials, which feature images unique to the rom such as Egyptology and statuary to illustrate the messages.

Ten print ads have also been produced.

They will be used locally by individual credit unions and in areas of Ontario such as Kenora, Dryden and Fort Frances.