Countrywide Home Loans Inc. has signed a $10 million, four-year deal to sponsor a Senior PGA golf tournament, "The Tradition."
The tourney is held each April in Scottsdale, Ariz., and its broadcast on the ABC television network is expected to reach 20 million households.
Although such arrangements are common for car and beer companies, this is a first for a mortgage bank. The sponsorship is part of Countrywide's strategy to establish itself as the "national brand of choice" for home loans, said Andy Bielanski, managing director of marketing.
Companies often sponsor sports events to "wrap themselves in the halo" of the event, Mr. Bielanski said.
"To have Countrywide, a 25-year-old company, be able to sponsor one of the major events in golf is a leadership statement," he said.
So far, the Pasadena, Calif., lender's national television campaign has mostly involved advertising on the Cable News Network. Countrywide also buys television time in 10 major markets that together account for one- third of the U.S. population, Mr. Bielanski said. The lender is looking to expand that campaign nationwide, as well.
During the four-day tournament, Countrywide's name will be prominently displayed on the golf course, and its commercials will be aired frequently.
Countrywide chief executive Angelo Mozilo will appear on camera a couple of times. Mr. Mozilo, a golf enthusiast, will present the winner's prize.
Mr. Bielanski expressed surprise that Countrywide's competitors have not copied its national advertising strategy. Many of the nation's largest mortgage banks are now bank-owned and benefit from their parent banks' strong brand names. That's an advantage, Mr. Bielanski said, but also diffuses advertising focus as the bank pushes checking accounts one month and home loans another.