National Bank courts millennials with tennis event

Alt Court in Montreal promoted financial firm's Rogers Cup sponsorship

National Bank recently served up an event to attract millennials and spark their interest in tennis.

Alt Court, which took place at Montreal’s Uniprix Stadium earlier this month, was designed around National Bank’s sponsorship of the Rogers Cup. More than 500 people, including a number of bloggers and influencers, attended the event, which featured DJs, art installations, dancers and games like table tennis.

Traditional banks are “not very attractive” to millennials, said Yann Jodoin, SVP – client strategy, marketing and branding at National Bank. The 18-to-35 cohort is accustomed to digitally focused services like Uber and Airbnb, as well as retail experiences from the likes of Apple, “so it’s very difficult for banks,” he said.

In addition, Jodoin said tennis isn’t very attractive to millennials either. “To be honest, it’s like banks: considered traditional and conservative,” he said.

“My main sponsorship budget is into a sport and into an event that are not attracting one of my main targeted customer segments. So, I gave the challenge to my team and to my agency partner [Sid Lee] and said, ‘if we can show that we can adapt tennis for millennials and make it cool… we can change the game.’”

The goal, he added, was to show that if National Bank “can put tennis in a different lens, banks can also change and adapt the needs of this generation.”

The event was purposely low-key on National Bank branding. “If we’d been too cocky about this being a National Bank event to start with, I don’t think that would have resonated very positively with millennials,” said Jodoin.

Instead, the bank wanted attendees to spread the word about Alt Court through their blogs and social media channels. “They are actually doing the organic spread of who was behind it,” said Jodoin. “That was risky, to put all that money in an event and not knowing if down the road people will remember who was behind it… But it [turned out] really positively for our brand.”

An online video produced by Sid Lee is also helping to tell people about National Bank’s untraditional take on tennis.

“We’ve been working with a lot of bloggers and using outreach in complement to a traditional digital media buy [for the video],” said Stéphane Alozy, VP of customer experience and partner at Sid Lee.

“We’re trying to demonstrate that National Bank does understand this target and will be a great partner for millennials to meet their [financial] objectives.”

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