There were plenty of new ideas to bring home from this year’s Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C. But for many of the 4,000-plus attendees, the biggest takeaway was simply hope. Gone was the hand-wringing and obsessive talk about minimizing loss and avoiding economic collapse. Carried on the wave of new membership credit unions have seen in the past year, attendees showed renewed enthusiasm for the industry and its prospects in the year to come. Although there was no formal measure of this attitudinal shift, there was the chicken suit test. To introduce its new cooperative consumer advertising campaign – centered on the theme, “Credit Unions Do” – an unnamed CO-OP Financial Services representative donned a chicken suit and passed out promotional materials to conference attendees. “Making Money Isn’t Easy. Booth 401,” the cards read. Now clearly, people who fear the apocalypse are not going to be in any mood to be confronted by a human chicken. But, “We had great response. Everyone liked it – and we had a lot of interest in our consumer campaign as a result,” said Ryan Zilker, B2B Marketing Manager, CO-OP Financial Services. CO-OP’s campaign is the second in a series designed to help credit unions reach out in an increasingly open consumer marketplace. The first campaign, “Banks Don’t Like You,” was designed to tap into consumer frustration with big banks and featured its own Facebook page. The new campaign highlights what “Credit Unions Do” to support their members and communities. Timing isn’t accidental. While consumer interest is up, credit unions need high-end marketing materials to grab attention. Yet, many credit unions lack the resources to create interest-grabbing campaigns. Using free, downloadable CO-OP print and Internet campaign materials, credit unions have access to great advertising at no cost. “Credit unions can drop in their own logos, add in phone numbers and modify the messaging,” said Zilker. “They can even use the artwork as a basis for bus banners and other outdoor media, or animate the web banners for greater impact.” (Check out the ads firsthand here.) Campaign materials are available to CO-OP members as well as to any credit unions that would like to use them. “We decided that helping credit unions grow the movement is so important that we didn’t want to limit this campaign,” said Zilker. “The mood at GAC this year was so positive and upbeat,” Zilker continues. “It was amazing how much more optimistic and excited people were – and CO-OP is excited to be taking a leadership role in helping credit unions use this momentum. Credit unions are back, and that’s very inspirational.”