Modern Marketing

Inside SoFi’s sports sponsorship strategy

  • SoFi has amped up its sponsorship efforts in 2018
  • Sports sponsorships make SoFi more of a household name and deepen its relationships with customers and would-be customers
close

Email a Friend

Inside SoFi’s sports sponsorship strategy

The Big Ten men’s college basketball championship final last weekend at Madison Square Garden had a new type of brand sponsor: SoFi.

The San Francisco-based personal finance brand joins a small club of finance startups making a name for themselves through a connection to sports. Quicken Loans has long-established sports sponsorships, including naming rights to Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland and links to college sports teams; and Credit Karma is playing in gaming, by becoming the “official personal finance partner” to eLeague, the gaming league formed by Turner Broadcasting and IMG tournament two years ago.

“As part of an overall media buying strategy across a number of platforms and formats, we’ve identified sporting events such as the Super Bowl, the Big Ten tournament and the X Games as excellent ways to reach our target audience,” said Margi Brown, SoFi’s vice president of marketing and media. “Our marketing strategy is driven by meeting our members where they are, with a unique focus on brand awareness marketing.”

Big-name sports sponsorships have long been the domain of big banks. Bank of America and Citi, the two largest bank sponsors of sporting events, each spend between $80 million and $85 million per year on sponsorships, according to consultancy ESP Properties, with some flagship examples including B of A’s relationship with Major League Baseball and Citi Field. But now, startups like SoFi are getting into the sponsorship game. SoFi is using sports sponsorships to become more of a household name and strengthen its connection to customers and would-be customers, recent graduates and students.

Though SoFi’s use of sports as a marketing tool began two years ago with Super Bowl ads, it’s since branched out to other sporting events. The multi-year Big Ten agreement makes SoFi an official presenting sponsor of the Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament giving it a prominent on-site presence at New York’s Madison Square Garden, including courtside signage and logo placement throughout the venue. SoFi was the official presenter of on-air television coverage on the Big Ten Network and was featured on Big Ten advertising throughout tournament week. The basketball tournament amplifies its relationship with the Big Ten, for which it became an official corporate sponsor last year. SoFi also sponsored extreme sports event X Games in Aspen in January.
sofi-xgames

Marketing efforts to boost brand recall and awareness are a growing area for SoFi. Sports events serve two purposes: to build visibility among a mass audience, and enhance its relationship among customers and prospects. Prominent sporting sponsorships present the company as a large, well-resourced entity capable of standing on its own alongside other larger consumer brands. For example, as a corporate sponsor to The Big Ten Conference, SoFi joins the likes of Gatorade, Shell, State Farm and T-Mobile. The company declined to comment on how much the sponsorships cost, but said they amount to a “small portion” of the company’s overall budget.

“You can still have that impact both on television and with a live audience in an arena as somebody who walks in expecting to see Chase or Wells Fargo — all of a sudden, SoFi is there, it puts them on a level playing field with the deeper-pocketed competitors,” said Jim Andrews, vice president of ESP Properties.

While SoFi aims for a big brand presence at par with financial giants, focusing on college events also lets it zero in on the college community audience. College events let the company reach a captive audience of customers and would-be customers, including students who may need to refinance their loans after graduating, along with alumni and friends who may be interested in SoFi loans and other products.

“Think of it as a ticket to the locker room,” said sponsorship consultant Raymond Bednar. “It allows them to stand out against the sea of new fintech offerings by connecting to their target in a non-fintech way.”

Images via SoFi

0 comments on “Inside SoFi’s sports sponsorship strategy”

Modern Marketing

Should banks ditch passwords and move to voice authentication?

  • Voice authentication could offer banks a number of advantages over existing verification methods, including greater security and a more convenient user experience.
  • However, it may not be wise to use voice on its own as a complete replacement to current verification methods.
Ismail Umar | January 04, 2022
Modern Marketing

‘A different level of emotion’: Ally’s biggest campaign to-date positions the company as a financial ally

  • Since October, Ally has been on the go with its widest-reaching campaign to-date.
  • With the campaign, Ally wants to emphasize its role in helping consumers pursue their dreams, as well as everyday to-dos.
Rivka Abramson | January 03, 2022
Modern Marketing

‘Calm and deliberate’: Betterment’s new visual identity

  • The pandemic has changed the way people manage their finances, and with that investing is becoming more about financial stability and less about financial fantasy.
  • Betterment’s new look could help position it as a partner for consumers’ financial journeys, rather than just another investing platform.
Rivka Abramson | December 27, 2021
Modern Marketing

Stash’s ‘Great Things Take Time’ campaign marks a stepping stone for the company

  • As day trading continues to gain popularity, Stash’s new campaign aims to show the benefits that come with building things over time.
  • The campaign also marks Stash’s goal to expand its services past investing.
Rivka Abramson | December 20, 2021
Modern Marketing, The Customer Effect

Gens under the lens: The Gen Z consumer

  • Generation Z, also known as Zoomers, represents individuals born between 1997 and 2012, following Millennials.
  • They grew up with the internet, computers and smartphones, are tech-savvy and all about digital finance.
Iulia Ciutina | December 16, 2021
More Articles