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American Express Shows Sponsors How It's Done
CNBC.com | June 17, 2011 | 04:46 PM EDT

I'll start with this: Sponsors of athletes, teams, tournaments and facilities, for the most part, do a bad job at maximizing their sponsorships.

They buy signage, they film commercials and they don't do what they're supposed to do, which is engage sports fans by giving them a reason to positively associate their company to the fan experience.

That's why it's so refreshing to see what American Express has done with its sponsorship of the US Open golf and tennis events in recent years.

The company has always been about making it special to be a consumer. Credit card companies face the risk of being differentiated by math — by the interest rates and financing charges and not by service or feeling. American Express has been one of the best sponsors in sports at these events because they you a better fan.

How?

Well, it starts with the very simple, like offering tickets to the event to cardholders before others can buy in the general sale.

At both US Opens they started offering mini televisions to fans on the grounds. Huge. Why? Because anyone who has ever been to these events knows that there's so much ground to cover and you find yourself longing to be at home because you have no idea what's going on other than what is in front of your eyes.

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