NWCUA’s Spectrum Awards Honor the Best in Northwest Credit Union Marketing

Horizon Credit Union’s Jason Galloway took home an armful of Spectrum Award trophies.
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Marketing professionals were dancing in the aisles – Gangnam Style! – and savoring the aroma of a “Keep Your Coffee” campaign that won high praise from judges in three different categories when the Northwest Credit Union Association presented its Spectrum Marketing Awards this week at the 2014 Marketers’ Conference in SeaTac, Washington.

Seattle Metropolitan Credit Union’s java-themed campaign won first-place awards for branding and cross-media marketing and earned an honorable mention in online/new media. That prompted organizers to include coffee beans among the table favors and to start a new conference tradition — the Spectrum Cup — which will bear Seattle Metropolitan’s name and live in the Emerald City until next year’s awards dinner.

“Keep Your Coffee” urged members to save money they would have spent on things they don’t need so that they could spend money instead on the things that make them happy. The campaign, which included YouTube videos that were seen by more than 70,000 viewers, debunked the theory that giving up your latte is the best way to save big and “challenged what we hear day-to-day with real truth,” one judge said. “You guys nailed it.”

St. Helens Community Federal Credit Union’s “Wanted: Friends and Family” campaign, which yielded huge growth in loans and deposits and brought the credit union 432 new members, earned the highest score from judges and was named Best in Show.

Denise Gabel, the NWCUA’s chief operating officer, and Emmy-winning TV news correspondent Elizabeth Leamy served as emcees for the evening, which surrounded the presentation of 32 crystal trophies with a Gangnam-Style tutorial and plenty of opportunities for marketers to get up and dance.

The awards, which were judged by professionals from other credit union leagues, marketing schools and creative agencies across the country, included:


Horizon Credit Union (First Place, $500 million and over):  “It had so much pop, even the most passive member would have been compelled to open it,” judges said.


Trailhead Credit Union (First Place, under $100 million): For a gritty, creative and youthful makeover that reversed seven years of negative membership growth and nine years of negative annual loan growth. “Very brave for jumping off the ledge,” judges said.

Verity Credit Union (First Place, $100 million-$500 million): For “Points on Plastic,” which gave members points for both credit and debit card use. Judges praised Verity for creativity, strategy and execution, and for employee engagement that helped to promote the program. 

Seattle Metropolitan Credit Union (First Place, $500 million and over): For “Keep Your Coffee.”

Clackamas Federal Credit Union (Honorable Mention, $100 million-$500 million): For the launch of a new online brand. Within the first month, new visits jumped 29 percent. Last year, mobile use increased 49 percent and tablet use went up 84 percent.

Seattle Metropolitan Credit Union (Honorable Mention, $500 million and over): For a new logo designed to position SMCU among Seattle’s other modern and sophisticated financial brands. “A clear and strong strategy,” judges said.


MAC Federal Credit Union (First Place, under $100 million): For a campaign to help members with modest means obtain car and RV loans so that they could get out and enjoy Alaska. “Created a great connection between your members and your brand,” judges said.

iQ Credit Union (First Place, $500 million and over): For a campaign that used the nostalgic love of ice cream to promote summer loans and exceeded marketing goals by 111 percent. An “excellent seasonal strategy,” judges said, because “ice cream defies demographic boundaries.”

Horizon Credit Union (Honorable Mention, $500 million and over): For its “Cowboy” and “Mission Possible” commercials. Judges said the strategy was unique, fun and effective, and that the script took unexpected turns to “create content that wasn’t boring or predictable.” 


Member Access Pacific: For helping credit unions deal with the massive data breach at Target stores by providing technology and other resources to protect members. A testimonial from Gesa Credit Union said MAP’s toolkit resulted in nearly zero fraud loss, and judges praised “a very strategic approach to bolster the services credit unions provide to their members.”


Ryanne Nesary accepts CALCOE Federal Credit Union’s first-place Spectrum Award for community impact and outreach from NWCUA President/CEO Troy Stang.

CALCOE Federal Credit Union (First Place, under $100 million): For a campaign to raise awareness about the credit union, introduce a new branch and raise money for local schools. When CALCOE partnered with the Moxee Hop Festival, its water bottles and T-shirts were everywhere, and every time attendees brought tickets from the fair to CALCOE’s new branch, the credit union made a $5 charitable donation.

Verity Credit Union (First Place, $100 million-$500 million): For “Cartwheel for a Cause,” a digital competition to drive fundraising for charitable causes and a cross-promotion for Cartwheel checking accounts. The program garnered 56 entries, received more than 18,000 votes and raised thousands of dollars for charities that sent kids to cancer camp, built water wells in developing nations and fed the hungry.

STCU (First Place, $500 million and over): For “My Life, My Money Classroom,” a financial literacy program that reached more than 6,300 teen-agers and adults. Judges raved about the program and the way STCU marketed it. Members raved about the results: “It has transformed my family’s financial situation,” one member said. “We had over $40,000 in unsecured debt, but with the education and classes from STCU, we were able to eliminate all of our debt.”

Horizon Credit Union (Honorable Mention, $500 million and over):  For “Concerts for a Cause.” Horizon sponsored a series of family-friendly summer concerts and used the venues to raise money for charities. “It wasn’t about checking accounts or loans,” judges said. “It was about people.”

Clackamas Federal Credit Union (Honorable Mention, $100 million-$500 million): For investing as much online real estate in promoting its community as it did promoting products. Judges said the approach obviously worked, because the credit union’s new website experienced a “huge” increase in mobile and desktop visits.


Ryann Conrad and Annette Pixley accept St. Helens Community Federal Credit Union’s Best in Show award from NWCUA President/CEO Troy Stang. The credit union’s cross-media marketing campaign won the night’s highest score from judges.

St. Helens Community Federal Credit Union (First Place, $100 million-$500 million): For  the “Wanted: Friends & Family” campaign, which gave members a $25 bounty card for each new member they brought to the credit union and gave a $25 appreciation card to the new members. For a campaign that cost about $4,000, the results were stunning : 432 new members, a $2.3 million-dollar increase in loans and a $1.4 million-dollar jump in deposits. 

Seattle Metropolitan Credit Union (First Place, $500 million and over): For “Keep Your Coffee.”

First Tech Federal Credit Union (First Place, $500 million and over): For being the first financial institution in the country to develop a native Windows-phone mobile banking app, and for the “Launched with Love” campaign that promoted it. The credit union set a goal of 100 downloads a month when it launched the app; it got more than 15,000. 

Verity Credit Union (Honorable Mention, $100 million-$500 million): Verity used online, QR codes, direct mail, radio, print and social media to promote 10-month/10-percent CDs. The result: 1,400 new certificates of deposit were opened and 750 new members joined in one month.

Columbia Credit Union (Honorable Mention, $500 million and over): “The Perfect Card for Every Occasion” campaign included what the judges called “a great use of photography and emotion with multiple images.” It resulted in nearly $900,000 in credit card balance transfers.

iQ Credit Union (Honorable mention, $500 million and over): For the “Get a Loan, Save a Latte” campaign. The strategy: promote auto and home loans while also rewarding loyal members with a Perks of Membership book featuring a variety of money-saving offers. The results: loan volume exceeded marketing goals by more than $10 million.


Verity Credit Union (First Place, $100 million-$500 million): Verity admits to flooding its members with e-markets in the past. Judges praised this effort to send fewer messages in a more-effective newsletter.

Horizon Credit Union (Honorable Mention, $500 million and over): When another credit union closed its branch in Coeur d’Alene, Horizon gained 1,100 members. The transition guide it created helped new members compare services and introduced them to new products. Judges liked the guide’s long shelf life and applauded its use of Northwest design elements.

STCU (Honorable Mention, $500 million and over): Judges loved STCU’s combination of graphics, smart layout and educational information in its newsletter, and gave the publication high marks for being the only local source for a comprehensive guide to summer entertainment events.


Verity Credit Union (First Place, $100 million-$500 million): For the “Roll On Seattle” campaign, which tapped into Northwesterners’ love of bicycling by building a loan campaign around it. Verity promoted the campaign through a variety of online channels, including its blog and a social media photo contest. For every photo submitted, the credit union donated $5 to the local nonprofit BikeWorks.

STCU (First Place, $500 million and over): For a social media campaign that almost doubled the number of STCU’s Facebook fans and increased interaction with virtually all of its tweets. Judges praised “a laser focus” on three social media goals: community relations, member delight and growing market share.

Seattle Metropolitan Credit Union (Honorable Mention, $500 million and over): For keeping “Keep Your Coffee” fresh with videos, animations and online landing pages that shared money-saving ideas with members.


Pacific NW Federal Credit Union’s seasonal mailers earned it a first-place Spectrum Award for print campaigns.

Pacific NW Federal Credit Union (First Place, $100 million-$500 million): For creating visually appealing seasonal mailers that highlighted three months of events, seminars, activities and promotions. The credit union partnered with a local printer and mail house to target new members and members who used two or fewer products. After spending $9,000 on four mailers, Pacific NW Federal booked more than $13 million in deposits and loans last year.

Red Canoe Credit Union (First Place, $500 million and over): For theCredit Card Myths” mailer that debunked myths about credit cards and invited active members who did not have VISA cards to leverage a program at a credit union they could trust. The eye-catching postcard broke through mailbox clutter, and the campaign exceeded its goals.

Global (Honorable Mention, $100 million-$500 million): For developing theGlobal Citizen” campaign in response to a survey that found few people who knew who Global was or what it offered. The credit union used local artists and engaged the community to create printed collateral. That allowed the world “to see Global in a whole new light,” judges said, and in the month when “Global Citizen” was launched, the credit union added 103 more new members than average.  

Horizon Credit Union (Honorable Mention, $500 million and over): For “Stay in Tune with Your Finances,” a campaign to raise awareness about Horizon’s e-services. The key was in-person interaction by marketers with members at six Horizon branches, using printed collateral that judges called “sharp, bold, stylish and simple.” Mobile app downloads jumped by nearly 16 percent, and the credit union exceeded its goal for new Home Banking enrollments by a whopping 94.1 percent.


STCU (First Place, $500 million and over): For the “Love Letter” campaign. When an urgent call was issued to message Congress to protect the credit union tax status, STCU created a positive messaging campaign that delivered more 7,000 letters from real voters. A “non-confrontational but aggressively messaged campaign to keep the Holy Grail tax exemption,” judges said.


St. Helens Community Federal Credit Union: For its “Wanted: Friends and Family” campaign. “Results were clearly tracked and measured against initial campaign goals,” judges said, “and clearly exceeded expectations.”

Questions about this story? Contact Gary M. Stein: 503.350.2216, gstein@nwcua.org.

Posted in Awards, Federal, Marketing & Communications.