Magazine article American Banker

Wells Fargo Adds Movie Sponsorship to Media Mix

Magazine article American Banker

Wells Fargo Adds Movie Sponsorship to Media Mix

Article excerpt

Byline: Victoria Finkle

Banks are going to new lengths to burnish their image in the public eye, with Wells Fargo & Co. now taking its very own red-carpet moment.

Wells Fargo is the "official financial institution sponsor" for the new George Lucas-produced "Red Tails." The movie chronicles the plight of the Tuskegee Airmen, who served in World War II as some of the first African-American fighter pilots in the U.S. military.

"The reason we got involved ... was the Wells Fargo connection to the Tuskegee Airmen," Michelle A. Thornhill, senior vice president and manager for the African-American segment at Wells Fargo, told American Banker.

Two of the unit's soldiers, Col. George S. Roberts and Lt. Col. James A. Walker, worked as bankers for Wells after they left military service.

"We were approached by the George Lucas team last summer" about being one of the movie's corporate sponsors, Thornhill says.

"It's certainly not something we had done before, in terms of sponsoring a major motion picture," she says, adding that the bank has sponsored smaller films and festivals in the past. Bank officials won't say how much Wells paid to be the sponsor. Wells did not help fund production of the movie, which was paid for by George Lucas, along with donations from Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey.

Wells, of San Francisco, sponsored six promotional screenings of "Red Tails" in cities including Atlanta, Charlotte, N.C., and Baltimore, and is opening exhibits about the fighter pilots in its history museums. There are no Wells product placements in the film.

The effort jibes with the bank's overall marketing strategy.

"Wells as a bank, they have long been very good and focused at targeting specific segments," such as African-Americans, says Campbell Edlund, president of EMI Strategic Marketing. …

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