Credit Union Borrows From 'Desperate Housewives'

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No one can resist those "Desperate Housewives." That's why AltaOne Federal Credit Union created an integrated marketing campaign parodying the ABC hit television show. The effort has generated $6 million in first-mortgage loan applications.

With 39,000 members and $430 million in assets, AltaOne provides a range of financial services. Membership is available to people in Kern, Mono, Inyo and northern San Bernardino counties in California. Redbeard Communications, Hollister, CA, a brand strategy and creative design firm specializing in the financial industry, designed the campaign, which began in July.

Using the initial concept created by AltaOne's marketing team, Redbeard developed "Desperate House Loans," a campaign reflecting "Desperate Housewives" in an exaggerated, soap-opera style.

One of AltaOne's goals is to ensure that the lending process is hassle-free. In keeping with that philosophy, the strategic lending messages to members highlight AltaOne's mortgage differentiators: no down payment on a first deed; 100 percent financing for first-time pre-qualified home buyers; low fees; low fixed rates; no origination fees; no documentation fees; and an easy online application.

The ads depict a house with a white picket fence and climbing roses. Each ad features one of four females resembling the "Desperate Housewives" cast. The copy details the perils of getting a home loan with another company and explains AltaOne's benefits. The campaign consisted of newspaper and radio ads, statement inserts, teller signs, branch posters and graphics for the credit union's newsletter and Web site.

Copy for the "Desperate House Loans" online ad read: "The intrigue," "The uncertainty," "The heartbreak," "There has to be a better way to get a home loan," "AltaOne. Click here for details." Visitors can click on a page where they can learn about the loans and click on a button displayed on the page to apply.

After running the campaign in July, the credit union doubled its first-mortgage applications versus the same time last year, said Wendy R. Cleveland, vice president of marketing at AltaOne. The print and branch materials are repeated this month because of the campaign's success.

Melissa Campanelli covers postal news, CRM and database marketing for DM News and To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting

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