While some banks are spending millions to get their names on sports arenas, Chase Manhattan Corp. is sticking to its tradition of sponsoring high-profile events.
The $367 billion-asset bank has been reevaluating its sports and arts sponsorships to focus on those that best support its national branding campaign.
For the 22nd consecutive year, Chase will sponsor the New York City Marathon on Nov. 1. It is also in its second year of sponsoring the Women's Tennis Association tour, including the women's draw at the U.S. Open in August and the Chase Championships in New York City this fall.
On the artistic front, the bank supports "Great Performances," a long- running national public television series. It has also underwritten a public television documentary commemorating New York City's centennial. Through 2000, Chase will also circulate its art collection-an assortment of contemporary works by Roy Lichtenstein, Willem de Kooning, Pablo Picasso, and others-to Texas, Frankfurt, and London.
At the same time, the bank is dropping sponsorships of smaller, more localized events like New York's Big Apple Circus.
Chase executives said they want to focus on events that draw big, preferably television, audiences.
"We looked at the business need," said Frederick W. Hill, executive vice president of marketing and communications. "The question we had to answer was, does this build the brand strategy for tomorrow while helping to sell the product today?"
Branding consultants said Chase's selection of high-profile events should help bolster its household name recognition, which has long been associated with the Rockefeller family. Indeed, David Rockefeller was chief executive officer of the 199-year-old bank through the 1970s.
"They are focusing on things that reinforce that gilt-edged image," said James Cerutti, director of financial institutions consulting at Diefenbach Elkins in San Francisco. "It's a projection of who they are and what they want to be seen as."
Mr. Hill said event marketing can be a way of reaching out to prospective clients.
The tour of the art collection-which was started by Mr. Rockefeller two decades ago-is designed to attract high-net-worth individuals to the bank's private bank services, for example.
Chase's in-house curator is on hand to give tours of the collection.
"It differentiates us," Mr. Hill said.
The reevaluation of the bank's event marketing is part of a broader cost-cutting effort Chase began in February, when individual departments were asked to examine ways to function more efficiently.
Since then, Chase has consolidated its event marketing staff, eliminating four jobs and moving eight employees to another unit.
In the past, "we weren't making decisions to sponsor events in terms of building the brand," Mr. Hill said.