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Banks come to play in the Super Bowl

By Allison Ross ·
Friday, January 31, 2014
Posted: 4 pm ET

Banks and financial services companies are bringing their A games -- and their money -- to this Sunday's Super Bowl in New Jersey.

The Super Bowl is one of the year's biggest advertising showcases. This year, Bank of America is pairing with music group U2 to do a 60-second Super Bowl ad, according to Advertising Age. In addition, 12 of the 29 host sponsors for the Super Bowl this year are banks or financial services companies, a departure from the numbers from previous Super Bowls.

Carol Johanek, a professor of marketing at Washington University in St. Louis, said banks are not a typical Super Bowl advertiser, especially compared to other industry groups like car manufacturers or beer brewers.

"With the present economy, new regulations and low interest rates in retail banking, there has been an increased competition among the different financial institutions," Johanek said. "The result is that banks, as brands, look to identify their own unique value proposition in the minds of consumers."

Johanek said that FirstBank had a Super Bowl ad in 2012 where it stressed its customer service by giving viewers "a bathroom break." The commercial was a man sitting in a chair and explaining that now was a good time to go to the bathroom because you wouldn't miss the game or any interesting commercials.

Bank of America's ad this year is expected to run between the first and second quarters and will feature U2 singing a new song called "Invisible" to promote Red, a charity co-founded by Bono that raises funds for treatment and prevention of diseases like HIV/AIDS, according to Ad Age.

Bank of America will donate $1 for every download of the song in the 24 hours after the commercial, up to $2 million.

"The sense of corporate responsibility toward social issues is of growing importance in many segments, especially the younger audiences," Johanek said. "A brand's sense of societal responsibility can often be the competitive distinction between one bank and another institution to consumers."

Bank of America is also one of the host sponsors for the big game, along with Citibank, BNY Mellon, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Morgan Stanley and a number of other financial services companies.

In past years, a much smaller number of financial services companies have been able to be host sponsors. Last year, only one financial services company, Chase, was an official host sponsor. An article in The Record in Bergen, N.J., said the NFL made a decision this Super Bowl to allow more than one representative of the financial services industry to be a host sponsor. Emails to NFL spokespeople seeking to confirm this were not returned as of Friday afternoon.

The reason why so many banks and financial services companies signed on to be host sponsors this year is unclear, although some say it's because the game is being held near Wall Street.

Will you be watching the Super Bowl this Sunday? Share your thoughts on Bank of America's commercial!

Follow me on Twitter: @allisonsross.

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