SOPOT, Poland (4/3/09)--Poland’s “Don’t Blame us. We’re not banks” campaign has generated significant publicity for credit unions in the country.
The tagline appeared on billboards, newspaper ads, and in radio and television commercials. Major Polish newspapers and television news programs also reported on the two-week campaign. The message, developed by Poland’s trade association for credit unions, the National Association of Co-operative Savings and Credit Unions (NACSCU), also attracted anger from Polish banks. “The banks wanted the campaign banned,” said Pawel Grzesik, head of NACSCU’s Warsaw office. “They said the ads suggested Poland’s banks were not secure, something we never said. “We were right in defining ourselves as conservative institutions, and the current economic trends are paying us back for that position,” he added. “The Polish middle class has become very disillusioned with the banking industry.” About 70% of Poland’s banks are based in other countries. Grzesik said he expects foreign economic issues to affect Poland. “Poland is not an island, and we wanted to clearly differentiate ourselves from the banking industry’s challenges,” Grzesik said. “We received word that some of these institutions already are on the edge of liquidity crises, and we assume that financial problems in Rome, Frankfurt and Paris will soon find their way to Poland.” It’s important to spread the message that there is a different type of financial institutions, according to Grzegorz Bierecki, NACSCU president and treasurer of the World Council of Credit Unions’ board of directors. “People want to do business with institutions that will not hurt them,” he said. “Credit unions are local, member-owned institutions and the only ones people currently can trust.”