SBD/June 6, 2014/Marketing and Sponsorship

As Hefty Fine Looms Over BNP Paribas, Tennis Industry Worries About Impact On Sport

BNP Paribas has been among the main French Open sponsors for more than 40 years
BNP Paribas, France’s largest bank, faces a potential $10B fine from the U.S. gov't for conducting business with Iran and other sanctioned nations, which "raises questions about whether BNP will cut back on dispensable expenses such as its sponsorships of sports," according to Rossingh & Benedetti-Valentini of BLOOMBERG NEWS. The bank "has been among the main sponsors" of the French Open for more than four decades, and the company is "banking on its support for the sporting event ... to recoup some lost reputation ground." London-based BrandRapport Dir of Sports Marketing PR Nigel Currie: "The brand will owe a lot of its recognition outside France to its sponsorship programs." Rossingh & Benedetti-Valentini report partnering with Roland Garros "has been an important part of branding efforts for BNP," which spends about $41M annually on tennis sponsorships. In addition to the French Open, BNP has sponsored both the Davis Cup and the Fed Cup. The bank also title-sponsors the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif., and the WTA's year-end championships in Singapore. BNP's motto -- "We are tennis" -- is "visible on the t-shirts of the ball boys and girls at Roland Garros." Int'l Tennis Federation President and IOC member Francesco Ricci Bitti called BNP the "most important sponsor in tennis." French Open organizers said that they "need BNP to continue to back them" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 6/6). Former USTA President and ITF member Franklin Johnson said that BNP's looming sanctions have him "concerned for the sport, but feels the Indian Wells event should be fine throughout the terms of their title sponsorship agreement which runs" through '18. Johnson: "I just know how important they are with the ITF. Anything negative that happens to them is of great concern" (Palm Springs DESERT SUN, 6/6).
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