Buck Showalter, manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks and a former manager of the New York Yankees, will be pitching bank products for Banc One Corp. in Arizona for the next three years.
Banc One has a $66 million sponsorship program with the expansion team, whose first season starts in April. Under that program Banc One's Arizona unit is the team's "exclusive bank" and has a 30-year contract for naming rights on its home, Bank One Ballpark.
From mid-March until the end of season Mr. Showalter will be the company's primary spokesman in the state. All advertising will be geared toward Bank One's "Diamondback Banking," which includes checking and credit card products. Mr. Showalter will appear in two television commercials.
"Anything we do in Arizona over the next six months will seek to leverage the relationship with the Diamondbacks," said Maria Koob, Banc One's national director of event marketing and promotions. "If you pay all that money and you don't do anything with it, that's kind of crazy."
Banc One has aggressively sought marketing relationships with professional sports teams. Though it lost its sponsorship of the Cincinnati Reds last year, it picked up an exclusive agreement with the National Football League's Dallas Cowboys. It is also the exclusive bank of the Colorado Rockies baseball team.
As part of its strategy, Banc One tries to get teams' coaches or owners to help sell its products, Ms. Koob said. Jerry Jones, owner of the Cowboys, and Don Baylor, manager of the Rockies, have done television commercials for Banc One. Mr. Jones, however, was not under contract.
Though a number of companies use star athletes to sell their products, Banc One has aligned itself with coaches, Ms. Koob said. "They're usually around a little bit longer," she said.
Of course, that's not always the case. Gene Stallings, the former coach of the NFL's Arizona Cardinals, was a longtime spokesman for Bank One predecessor Valley National Bank until the Cardinals fired him in 1989.
Mr. Showalter will replace longtime Banc One spokesman and University of Arizona basketball coach Lute Olson. Mr. Olson, whose Wildcats won the national championship last year, appeared in the bank's Arizona television commercials for eight years with rival Bill Frieder, the former basketball coach at Arizona State University.
With Mr. Frieder's departure from Arizona State last fall, Banc One ended its contract with the coaches, said Stephen Roman, Bank One Arizona's marketing director.