Magazine article Marketing

Opinion: The Marketing Society Forum - Is Football Sponsorship a Good Use of State-Owned Banks' Money?

Magazine article Marketing

Opinion: The Marketing Society Forum - Is Football Sponsorship a Good Use of State-Owned Banks' Money?

Article excerpt

State-owned Northern Rock has extended its sponsorship of Newcastle United for a further four years, arguing that the bank's potential pounds 10m commitment represents good value for taxpayers.


This is a misconceived question. You might as well ask: 'Should banks engage in any marketing activity whatsoever ?'.

We all know that banks are in the dock. There is a huge amount of public anger and the general feeling is that they jolly well ought to be grateful that the taxpayers have bailed them out, and now they should shut up.

But this misses the point. Nobody wants the government to have big shareholdings in retail banks. So it's imperative they are returned to profitability as quickly and vigorously as possible, in order to repay the state.

Therefore, all the banks that were beneficiaries of state funds should compete ferociously. Marketing is a key component in that. The last thing we should want is for banks to retreat into their shells and stop communicating with their customers.

Whether football sponsorship is a relevant part of the mix should be addressed case by case (there's a strong argument for Newcastle/Northern Rock), but state ownership is a complete red herring.


Working in an ad agency, it's often helpful to ask: would we do this if it were our money? Well, now it is our money, taxpayers' money. If we truly believe in the power of marketing to drive commercial success and shareholder value, we have to want the state-owned banks to employ the most effective marketing tools available.

We should really be asking: can a football sponsorship represent effective marketing for a retail bank? A retail bank with a presence on every high street doesn't need sponsorship for conventional brand-awareness reasons.

But the nation's favourite sport can lend energy, warmth and humanity to an industry with reputation issues.

The key is in how you use it. We have learned from the mobile phone category that relationships in relatively commoditised sectors can be rein-forced and enhanced by rewards from the world of entertainment.

If a retail bank can employ football to deliver human warmth and customer participation, then it could indeed be money well spent. …

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