The partnership with Ferrari also allows Santander to develop various promotions in every market it operates, Arribas added. One of those promotions was the “Forza Ferrari Contest" in which Santander asked people to create a video and upload it to YouTube to win a trip for two to the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix and meet the team and the drivers. Santander has been the official sponsor of the Ferrari F1 team since ’10.
However, the bank’s involvement in F1 started even earlier. Prior to the ’07 season, Santander agreed to a three-year deal with the U.K.-based McLaren team. It paid an immediate dividend. Arribas: “We were able to increase our awareness in the U.K. using just McLaren assets by 20 percent to 92 percent in just three years. So it’s a huge increase of awareness in just one country based on the Formula One McLaren sponsorship."
A NEW OPPORTUNITY: Despite this successful partnership, Santander decided to move on and when the opportunity for a deal with the most successful team in F1 history came along, the bank took advantage. Being linked with the best team in Formula One history was the main reason for the bank's alliance with Ferrari, Arribas said. “Both brands have a lot in common, not only in terms of red color, which is obvious, but also in terms of values and history.
Both companies were born in small villages where they have developed a business model around the customer, doing things with quality. So we found that Ferrari is the perfect partner for us in Formula One." To continue this partnership, Santander has already renewed its deal with the Italian team through ’17.
In addition to Ferrari, the bank also sponsors several F1 Grands Prix in key markets like the U.K. and Germany, and though it ended its partnership deal with the team, it still is a partner of both McLaren drivers. Asked about the reason for pulling the McLaren team sponsorship but continuing the partnership with the team’s drivers, Arribas said, “In Formula One, we are sponsoring circuits, teams and drivers because the driver is an excellent asset to connect with the customer. The circuit is a message of supporting the country. The team is how we can manage the emotional assets around the sponsorship, but the driver allows us to connect with the customers and to develop commercial promotions."
WHAT ABOUT THE STATES? While the bank has Spanish roots, Santander is trying to position itself as an int’l player. With that mandate, it has targeted the most popular sport in the world, football. The bank has been a sponsor of the Copa Libertadores, the most prestigious club football competition in South America, since ’07. It also sponsors other football competitions in Latin America. Sports sponsorships are a key asset for Santander in its efforts to become an int’l retail bank — "the everyday bank for everybody," Arribas said. “Both [football and F1] are global sports with global reach, huge audiences, high frequency of contact with a football match or a Formula One Grand Prix almost every weekend. They are very, very massive sports, so they help us a lot to build our brand."
However, Santander, which recently completed the rebranding of U.S.-based Sovereign Bank, might have picked the wrong sports if it wants to grow its U.S. customer base. Arribas: “When we decided on our sports sponsorship platform seven years ago with soccer and Formula One, we had no presence in the U.S. market. It works perfectly in nine of 10 core markets, but it’s true that here in the States, while both soccer and Formula One are slowly growing, we know we can’t take full advantage of the sponsorships. We know we have to look and explore and maybe in the future the right opportunity will appear." Santander has regional sponsorship deals with the NFL Philadelphia Eagles and Major League Soccer New England Revolution, but it does not have an asset like F1 or Copa Libertadores in North America. HJ Mai, Sportsbusiness Daily