Magazine article ABA Bank Marketing

Banks Purchasing Naming Rights at Sports Stadiums and Other Facilities Is an Example of How Financial Institutions Can Leverage Partnerships with Community Businesses for Mutual Advantage

Magazine article ABA Bank Marketing

Banks Purchasing Naming Rights at Sports Stadiums and Other Facilities Is an Example of How Financial Institutions Can Leverage Partnerships with Community Businesses for Mutual Advantage

Article excerpt

Let's list a few of the banks that have purchased "naming rights" for well-known stadiums or sports arenas. There's PNC Park (Pittsburgh); Chase Field (Phoenix); Comerica Park (Detroit); TD Banknorth Garden (Boston); Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte, N.C.); Bank of America Arena (Seattle); M&T Bank Stadium (Buffalo and Baltimore); and Citi Field (New York).

As you can see, the practice is widespread.

But recently, as the economy headed south, naming-rights deals have come under a cloud. In one instance, U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) disparaged naming-rights deals for events and facilities as "ego boosts" for company executives. There has been negative publicity about naming-rights contacts being terminated because of companies going out of business, being sold or bought out.

In light of these changed circumstances, are naming-rights deals involving banks obsolete? Are they no longer a good way for a bank to promote itself? Actually, the opposite may be true: This might be a good--perhaps the best--time for banks to consider a corporate naming-rights deal.

I'll explain what I mean in a second, but first I'd like to give some history and background about the naming-rights phenomenon.

What is a naming right?

A corporate naming right is the use of a company name on real property (stadium or arena) or as the title sponsor of an event in exchange for financial benefits. Universities and hospitals have had a long history of granting donors the right to use their name for a building or new hospital wing in exchange for a large contribution.

Naming rights for advertising purposes is a relatively new concept. Some of the earliest examples include early television shows such as, "Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom" (1963), the naming of Busch Memorial Stadium for the Anheuser Busch company in 1966, and the Colgate Palmolive Dinah Shore golf championship (which is now Kraft Nabisco.) started in 1972. In the last 10 years, this industry has taken off as most stadiums and events have a corporate sponsor attached to its name.

Eric Wright, vice president of research and product development for Joyce Julius & Associates Inc., a company that measures and evaluates the impact of corporate sponsorship for sports and entertainment and specializes in measuring the impact created by naming-rights partnerships, states that the benefits of this type of sponsorship fall into two broad categories: generating brand recognition (locally and nationally) and developing a sense of "community" with the brand.

Wright feels that the benefits can be felt with different media. "Take the typical baseball game. The brand receives media exposure from the home team and the road team on live game telecasts, highlights on TV stations, local and national print media, Internet articles, radio broadcasts, and on and on. So obviously the imprint made by this type of sponsorship can be very wide-ranging."

Banks are frequently involved in sponsoring sporting events. It is seen mostly in sports that have very strong financial demographics in its fanbase, in both viewing and participation. In particular many banks are involved in golf sponsorship on both tournaments and directly with major golfers. Tennis, having more of an international fan-base, seems to draw foreign banks in addition to U.S. banks. College football also has drawn the attention of banks as there are currently two bowl games with banks as naming-rights sponsors.

Why banks are involved

Robert Yowell, founder of Gemini Sports, feels that a major factor that brings banks into naming-rights deals is that banks have several advantages over other industries including the "ability to be involved with the financing of the construction project, handling payroll, signing up credit card users, use of the ATMs within the facility, and its various relationships give other opportunities for business to business relationships. …

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