Credit union contest offers cash prizes for the best bank-bashing

Grousing for dollars -- a new contest urges people to vent their financial frustrations.

Complaining about fees and other big bank frustrations is nothing new. Now, you could actually win money for it.

Minnesota's credit unions are hosting a "Bankziety" contest on Facebook with cash prizes and gift cards as they try to capitalize on the public's bank-bashing mood and spotlight their not-for-profit industry. The lenders are encouraging people to vent their bank frustrations, as well as share their stories about positive experiences with credit unions, on the "Minnesota Credit Unions" Facebook page.

The top four winners will be awarded $2,000 and a chance to take part in a video series, the Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN) said Tuesday. Stories can be submitted Tuesday through May 7.

The grouse-fest marks the launch of a new marketing campaign being run by Minneapolis-based public relations agency Padilla Speer Beardsley. MnCUN wouldn't specify what it's paying Padilla Speer, but said it's less than $300,000 for the campaign, which will run through this year.

As part of the campaign the group also created SeeYouLaterBank.com. The website is a hub for information about credit unions that includes a credit union finder and a link to the Facebook contest.

"Credit unions are a values-based alternative," said MnCUN head Mark Cummins. "We have a lot of young folks that really don't know a lot about credit unions at all."

MnCUN, which represents about 141 credit unions across the state, said members have experienced a surge in new customers since mid 2011, in part due to the backlash against Wall Street's banking giants that grabbed headlines with the grassroots Bank Transfer Day last November, and Occupy Wall Street protests. Cummins said he interprets the membership growth as a movement to find banking alternatives.

"Is it outrage? Maybe for some," he said. "For more, it's maybe more of a 'Huh, maybe there's another way of doing this that I hadn't thought about.'"

Jennifer Bjorhus • 612-673-4683

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