HGTV Host a Public Relations Bonanza for Michigan CU

Lake Michigan CU signs HGTV’s Carter Oosterhouse as a celebrity spokesman.

June 19, 2013

Signing Carter Oosterhouse as a celebrity spokesman has been a public relations bonanza for $2.7 billion asset Lake Michigan Credit Union (LMCU) in Grand Rapids, Mich. The credit union counts the host of HGTV home improvement shows among its more than 252,000 members.

Oosterhouse, who became a carpenter’s apprentice at age 12 while growing up in Traverse City, Mich., is the focal point of a marketing blitz centering around a $25,000 home makeover sweepstakes.

The grand prize includes a two-hour consultation where he’ll provide design ideas and eco-friendly building tips.

Oosterhouse appears in three television commercials and in ads on billboards and in print, as well as on brochures and LMCU’s website.

The credit union also launched a social media campaign to prompt entries for the sweepstakes, which closed April 30, with the winner drawn May 17.

The feedback has been impressive. The sweepstakes drew 61,000 entries in the first six weeks, during which time LMCU more than doubled the “likes” on its Facebook page, to nearly 5,000. Branch traffic is up as well.

“He’s given us a lot of visibility in the community and a positive feeling among staff,” says Don Bratt, vice president of marketing. The relationship began when Oosterhouse took out a mortgage for a home in Traverse City through his friend Corbin Buttleman, LMCU lending officer.

Credit CEO Sandy Jelinski for realizing Oosterhouse would be a great public face for LMCU, which originates the most mortgages of any credit union in the state.

“Align your institution’s values with the values of the celebrity— work with someone that makes sense,” Bratt advises.

“We’re big into mortgages, and Carter’s big into homes. That’s a nice connection.”