NASCAR Banking

Bank of America recently announced that it was introducing its first ever NASCAR-themed ad.

The 30 second spot titled “Who’s Your Driver?” features footage of a number of top NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers whose likenesses are available on NASCAR Banking check cards and credit cards. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, Juan Pablo Montoya and Martin Truex Jr., are featured in the new ad and are among the most popular drivers featured.

This ad is Bank of America’s third major campaign this year focused on sports fans, including deals with the Olympics and Major League Baseball (press release here). The brand has been very focused on upbeat, uplifting messages like “America’s Cheer 2008” (previous coverage from The Financial Brand here).

This latest spot starts with the line, “This is America, and you have the freedom to cheer.”

B of A has a good promotional tie-in with its co-branded debit and credit cards. At a special section of its website called “NASCAR RacePoints,” the bank details how you can earn points and “burn” them using their plastic products. You earn one RacePoint for every $4 in net retail check card purchases, and can spend them on exclusive NASCAR experiences, race tickets, NASCAR licensed products and goodies like flat panel TVs, iPods and much more.

Use the NASCAR card, get NASCAR stuff. “Earn and burn.” It’s a nice, self-reinforcing promotion.

Bank of America first launched its NASCAR program in 2007. As the “Official Bank of NASCAR,” B of A can offer NASCAR themed checks, debit and credit cards. B of A calls it ‘NASCAR Banking.’

“Our affinity products are some of the fastest growing products we have at the bank. And the NASCAR products are in the top 10 of those,” says Mike Hargrave, an executive with Bank of America’s NASCAR program.

It’s worth noting that B of A is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, the heart of NASCAR country.

The NASCAR Banking ads, produced by worldwide advertising behemoth BBDO, won’t be running nationally until July.

Bottom Line: NASCAR is on-brand for B of A. They should be the sponsor of American traditions like NASCAR. After all, their name is Bank of America. They’ve sponsored the Dallas Cowboys — “America’s Team” — for over two decades. The Olympics. MLB. And this announcement from today: the U.S. military. All things American. This is a much better, much more believable brand direction than “Higher Standards.” Two thumbs up.

Key Takeaway: Affinity products are a great way to engage people with a financial brand and counteract the dull, stodgy and boring image associated with the average bank or credit union. What brands can you link with? (Note: You don’t have to be a major brand, nor do you have to pick a major brand to partner with to succeed with this strategy.)

Script for “NASCAR Banking” :30 TV spot from Bank of America

Announcer:
This is America. And you have the freedom to cheer.

Fan:
Yeah, #9! Casey Kahne!

Announcer:
Idolize.

Fan:
Dale Junior!

Fan:
Mr. Jeff Gordon!

Announcer:
Celebrate.

Young Fan:
Juan Pablo Montoya!

Announcer:
Maybe even get carried away.

Fan:
Martin Truex Junior. He’s the man!

Announcer:
Only Bank of America gives you the freedom to bank with the same kind of passion. With NASCAR Banking.
Your check card, your credit card, your driver.
This is America.
Don’t you belong with Bank of America?
Bank of Opportunity.

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