A Case Study on Bank of America Sports Sponsorship
Sports sponsorship has become one of the brand recognition elements of Bank of America as a large-scale commercial bank thanks to its invariable valuation and utilization of sports sponsorship strategy in its early days and those as a former body. From the objective perspective, what much more matters is that the sports and finance industries of America went through tremendous development and prosperity after World War II and therefore making most use of sports elements for branding was without doubt an important drive to the vigorous growth of Bank of America.
经过长期的经验积累，面临市场环境的变化，银行高层势必要梳理或者调整他们选择体育赞助项目的标准及程序。这个时代已不是某一项运动极度风靡就能帮助某个品牌迅速成长的时代了，也不是简单的品牌关联就能打动消费者的。所以，当赞助商们开始要求选择的赞助项目能够带来直接的业务回报时，是不可以理解的。当一项体育赞助能够同时满足美银三个主要业务类型的直接的return on investment要求时，无疑这项赞助就是可行的。这是一个简单明确的标准，看起来没有错。
Through long-term experience accumulation and facing varying market circumstances, the bank’s senior management has to sort out or adjust their criteria and procedures of selecting a sports sponsorship opportunity. This is no longer an era in which a very hot sport can help a brand grow rapidly, nor that simple brand association can motivate consumers. In that case, it’s unreasonable that sponsors begin to demand immediate return on investment from sponsorship opportunities they choose. For Bank of America, a sponsorship is undoubtedly feasible when it meets the requirements of the bank’s three major business types on immediate return on investment. This is a simple and explicit criterion and seems right.
按照这个体系来评估，对“NASCAR”和“the Dallas Cowboys”的赞助项目是合乎标准的，所以赞同继续赞助。理由不仅仅是它们能带来广泛的粉丝群（这也是其等价物回报，例如文化衫、比赛计分牌、电视直播等回报的价值所在）以及由这些粉丝群和众多的参与者们本身是有银行业务价值的，而且还因为这两项赛事或组织仍然处于扩张发展的时期，其所产生的基础建设、经营管理融资需求是银行业者们非常看重的。而另外两个选择中，U.S. Olympic Committee并未有举办近期奥运会的计划，所以不会产生类似的资金需求。the Professional Golf Association (PGA) Tour，在case中也未提及这方面的机遇。对于逐步退出这项赛事的赞助，我完全赞同The leadership council的观点。
Evaluated according to this criterion, two sponsorship opportunities, NASCAR and the Dallas Cowboys, conform to the criterion and therefore receive continued sponsorships. Such a decision is made not only because of their enormous fans (where the value exists for return on their equivalents such as DIY T-shirts, score boards and live TV programs), but also of the value of such fans and numerous participants to the banking businesses in addition to the banker’s high valuation of the infrastructure construction and management-induced financing demands derived from the two expanding sports events or organizations. On the other hand, of the other two alternatives, the U.S. Olympic Committee doesn’t plan to hold Olympic Games in recent period and therefore brings no similar financing demands; for the Professional Golf Association (PGA) Tour, no similar opportunities are mentioned in the case. Like the leadership council, I totally agree with the decision of gradually quitting sponsoring the sports event.
After the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984, America just began to build its understanding of Olympics; not until the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, America gained its full understanding. With the help of this Olympics, Coca-Cola became the most benefited brand. Compared to America itself, sponsoring Olympics receives more attention outside America because Olympics is not that warmly welcomed by Americans. According to the fact mentioned in the case that 94% of the revenue gained by Bank of America comes from America itself, sponsoring Olympics won’t bring the bank anticipated income.
As we know, sports sponsorship as a very small branch of corporate public relation strategy is mainly intended to publicly communicate corporate or brand image and induce positive and sound associations. By nature, it cannot skyrocket awareness but endow brand with positive elements on the basis of gained awareness.
So what’s the problem with the screening criteria developed by Ray Bednar and his team?
首先，这个标准应当强调体育赞助的公关属性。它所提供的由体育运动带来的brand awareness, differentiation, favorability, positive associations等的正面联想给赞助商，是基本的功能和要求。次之，体育赞助能够影响到某项体育赛事的参与者、粉丝、电视观众等，这个群体越庞大，其所产生的return on business objectives和Marketing Assets的价值就越高。
First off, the criteria should emphasize the public relation property of sports sponsorship. Its very basic function and requirement is to bring sponsors brand awareness, differentiation, favorability and positive associations. Then, sports sponsorship can influence the participants, fans and TV audience of a sports event. The bigger size of them leads to higher value of return on business objectives and marketing assets.
作为一个基因中就带有体育活动的大银行品牌，选择体育赞助项目时，首要应当关注的是该项体育赛事的广泛性，以及是否受到本银行客户群的喜爱，再应当关注赞助本身能够换取多少Marketing Assets，以使得赞助活动得到更广泛的传播，利益最大化。至于赞助本身能否给银行带来直接的return on investment，这样的考虑可以理解，看起来也没有错，但它不该列为优先考虑。我们可以设想，一支来自中国的棒球队要来德州进行一场友谊赛，这支球队不会成为美银的客户，大洋彼岸的中国人也并不关注这场比赛，也没有众多的粉丝和电视直播，那么美银应该赞助这场比赛吗？
When it comes to selecting a sports sponsorship opportunity, Bank of America as a big bank brand carrying a sports gene should firstly consider the popularity of a sports event and whether it is favored by the bank’s clients, followed by how much sponsorship itself can be converted to marketing assets so as to further communicate the sponsorship and maximize benefits. However, whether sponsorship can bring the bank immediate return on investment should not be considered first although such practice is understandable and seems right. Let’s envisage a case—a baseball team from China goes to Texas for a friendly match. Neither will the team become the client of Bank of America, nor will the Chinese people on the other side of the ocean pay attention to the match or there be any fans or live broadcasts. So should Bank of America sponsor the match?