Citigrup focuses on young athletes when it comes to sports sponsorship
Michael Schumacher advertises mineral water, Tiger Woods for American Express and basketball star Yao Ming for Visa. Citigroup is currently showing that there is another way. Instead of relying on big stars like other financial service providers, the industry leader prefers to invest in up-and-coming athletes, amateur teams and youth events. “This allows the bank to present itself as a responsible company,” explains Johannes Vogel, marketing expert from the University of Mainz. Because this represents that the company not only surrounds itself with big names, but also knows what responsibility it has towards society. “This form of marketing is known as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR),” says Vogel.
For example, Citigroup will start its own junior team at the renowned Ryders Golf Cup. These will be four young golfers mentored by pros Paul Azinger and Nick Faldo. They should not only learn how to improve their golf game, but also how to cope with the stress of the pro tour. “This type of coaching should run through our entire brand presentation. Because we kind of train our customers, too,” says Mark Ingall, Management Director of Global Strategic Media. Sport would give Citi exactly the environment in which they can consistently implement this approach. The strategy is also to be continued in the Nascar racing series, where Citigroup will launch its own junior team.
“But I find it difficult when companies rely solely on a marketing strategy like this,” Vogel continues. Because the so-called testimonial, i.e. the presentation with great athletes, is a very tried and tested method, especially in sports sponsorship. An approach that is obviously also seen at the major US bank. Because in addition to their new mentoring program, they are important supporters of the New York baseball team Mets. The naming rights for the new Mets stadium, Citi Field, were sold for 400 million dollars (284 million euros). However, the mentoring program is also to be continued here. As the New York Times reports, it is planned that individual players will sponsor young talents and thus introduce them to the team. “As an integrated part of a large campaign, this approach is very promising,” Vogel continues.
Similar marketing methods could also be observed at the Erdinger brewery http://www.erdinger.de in the past few years. “After the launch of Erdinger Non-Alcoholic, they focused specifically on advertising measures within the framework of popular sport events,” explains Vogel. For successfully completed marathon runs, the runners were rewarded with a glass of Erdinger alcohol-free at the finish line. “The product should not only be positioned as a trendsetter, but also its image as an unhealthy drink should be eliminated,” says the marketing expert. “The events also had a liquid sponsor, which was a win-win situation for both sides.” pte