A credit union with two branches in Lawrence is changing its name today, as part of a marketing effort to eliminate confusion affiliated with its Wichita-based roots.
And promoting the change during the biggest sporting event of the year is all part of the game plan.
“When we first started looking at this, we actually thought about introducing the new name at the beginning of the year — you know, fresh start, new year, that kind of stuff,” said Bob Corwin, president and chief executive officer for Meritrust Credit Union, the new name for what had been Boeing Wichita Credit Union.
“But, almost jokingly, we were talking about, ‘Gosh, what about the Super Bowl? Everybody’s watching ads on there.’ The ads almost get as much play as the Super Bowl itself.
“When we looked into it, we were very pleasantly surprised at how inexpensive it was for the opportunity to target specific markets. So we capitalized on that.”
The culmination of that capitalization will be five Meritrust TV spots, to be shown during NBC’s Super Bowl coverage on KSNT, channel 8 on Sunflower Broadband.
The same ad will be shown five times: during pregame, sometime during the first half, at halftime, during the second half and in postgame.
Total cost: Less than the Wichita-based credit union already is spending to switch out signs at its 15 branches, including the two in Lawrence at 643 Mass. and 4821 W. Sixth St.
“We’re hoping that it not only gets the word out to ensure that our current members see it and are aware of the change, but that it also regenerates some interest in the communities we serve,” Corwin said. “And with the new name, hopefully we won’t have the confusion of either Boeing or Wichita being required for membership.”
Meritrust — a mashup of the words “merit” and “trust” — emerged from an initial list of 400 names considered to replace Boeing Wichita Credit Union.
The institution was founded in 1936 by employees of Stearman Aircraft Co., which would later become Boeing.
The credit union started accepting non-Boeing employees as members in 1994, and since then has grown to have $600 million in assets, $485 million in deposits and 220 employees. Today, only 20 percent to 25 percent of the credit union’s 55,000 members have ties to Boeing or Spirit AeroSystems, Corwin said.
In February 2006 the credit union opened its first branch in Lawrence, a market where it now has 3,200 members, 15 employees, $59 million in loans and $21 million in deposits.
Meritrust also plans to open branches in Junction City and Manhattan.
The name change won’t require any changes for current members, Corwin said.
ATM cards will still work, checks will remain valid and all employees, programs, rates and other components will continue on as before.