Banks and Credit Unions Experiment with Marketing Deals with College Athletes | Credit Union Journal

Credit unions and community banks are largely reluctant to sign marketing deals with college athletes, but a few are trying to seize the emerging opportunity.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association changed its policy in July to allow students to outsource their name, image and likeness, or NIL. A few lenders have already entered into NIL deals with college athletes, but most remain on the sidelines fearing that there isn’t enough synergy to make such deals profitable.

Michigan State University Federal Credit Union in East Lansing is trying their luck on the Michigan State University women’s basketball team and declared it will provide compensation to all eligible players for the 2021-22 season. But just like on the basketball court, the pursuit of these contracts will depend on the performance of the athletes.

“The current contracts give us the opportunity to assess success and impact, and consider whether we will continue and / or expand our support to other athletes / sports in the years to come,” said Deidre Davis, director of marketing for the $ 6.5 billion project. credit union assets.

College athletes will make in-person appearances at events and participate in marketing, promotions and social media posts. In addition, they may appear in print advertisements, billboards, videos, TV advertisements and other platforms, and may appear at member-centric events hosted by the credit union.

The Neighbors Federal Credit Union, with $ 1.2 billion in assets, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, rushed to recruit Louisiana State University receiver Brian Thomas Jr.

The credit union also has a branch at Walker High School, where Thomas performed, and Thomas and his family have been members of Neighbors for years.

Baton Rouge Neighbors Federal Credit Union signed an agreement this year with Louisiana State University catcher Brian Thomas Jr. The credit union has a branch at Walker High School, where Thomas played.

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“It was just a perfect fit,” said Brett Reynolds, vice president of marketing for Neighbors. “It was an opportunity to present our brand to a very dedicated audience – the LSU fan base – in a unique way.”

Reynolds said NIL deals are “difficult” for financial institutions because it is difficult to make the connection between a young athlete and a financial institution, but the relationship makes it work.

Other institutions are not so sure.

The Arkansas Federal Credit Union leadership team in Little Rock discussed making such a deal with athletes from the University of Arkansas, Arkansas State University and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. But the credit union ultimately decided that its marketing dollars would be better spent elsewhere.

“I expected to see a rush for top athletes to sign industry exclusive deals, but I didn’t really see that,” said Rodney Showmar, CEO of Asset 1 Credit Union, $ 7 billion.

But a competitor, First Arkansas Bank & Trust in Jacksonville, has signed a partnership with University of Arkansas basketball player Davonte “Devo” Davis.

Davis, from Jacksonville, will partner with FAB&T in a series of print ads, social media content and billboards.

Showmar pointed out that Simmons Bank had reclaimed the naming rights to state football stadiums and event arenas, and he prefers this marketing approach.

“You can get a deal for over 10 years, the venue acts as a billboard, and foot traffic and eyeball impressions are higher during the term of the deal,” he said.

Bank of Hawaii recently entered into sponsorship partnerships with eight University of Hawaii student-athletes. The exact terms of the agreements are confidential, but the bank said it provides athletes with financial education and preparation; professional / career development and training, such as internships; and experiences of community service and engagement.

“Local varsity athletes bring such positivity to our close-knit community. Our SimpliFi athletes are role models in their own right. And we are honored to partner with them and offer a variety of opportunities that could shape their future, ”said Peter Ho, President and CEO of Bank of Hawaii, in a press release.

Neighbors Federal Credit Union would consider adding more NIL agreements if they were the right solution.

“I don’t want to force it and I don’t want to just do a simple approval. But if there was a way to partner with more athletes that allowed us to showcase our community outreach or other brand values, we would consider it 100%, ”Reynolds said.

The Credit Union recently asked former LSU quarterback Myles Brennan to help out some of Neighbors’ volunteer sites and run social media promotions.

Ultimately, credit unions considering NIL deals need to be clear up front about what they expect from athletes. “It is imperative that both parties understand that these are service contracts, so having thoughtful meetings with student-athletes to discuss the process and expectations of the contract will help ensure that the expectations of all parties are met. lined up, ”Reynolds said.

Charles T. McConnell