SBJ/March 20 - 26, 2006/Marketingsponsorship

Bank of America makes Bednar its top sports sponsorship exec

Bank of America Corp. has hired Ray Bednar as its senior vice president and sports sponsorship executive, putting him in charge of an extensive sports portfolio that includes relationships with the U.S. Olympic Committee, Major League Baseball and a number of professional sports franchises.

The move comes as the company’s global chief marketing officer, Cathy Bessant, was shifted over to succeed Tim Arnoult, Bank of America Corp.’s global treasury-services executive, who is retiring after 27 years with the company. In her tenure, Bessant helped expand Bank of America’s relationship with NASCAR and led the city of Charlotte’s bid for the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

With the shift in Bessant’s responsibilities, advertising, brand management and sponsorships personnel will report to Anne Finucane, who has been named global-marketing and corporate-affairs executive. She retains her responsibilities for corporate communications, public policy, corporate philanthropy and the market-president network.

Bednar will be based in Charlotte and report to Rick Parsons, executive vice president and brand marketing executive at the bank. Bednar spent the last four years as chief executive of North America and South America for Prism, an international sponsorship agency owned by WPP Group. In that role, Bednar represented Ford Motor Co., Xerox Corp. and other international firms, helping major companies develop sponsorship strategies in the arts, sports, entertainment and nonprofit realms.

Bank of America had employed both Parsons and Bessant to handle its sports properties and negotiations for the last 18 months, largely due to the departure of former sports sponsorship executive Dockery Clark in September 2004. Clark, who spent 11 years at Bank of America, now heads sports sponsorships for Miller Brewing Co.

Bank of America has deals with national sports properties, a stadium naming deal with the Carolina Panthers, and bank-sponsor agreements with five Speedway Motorsports Inc.’s tracks and four International Speedway Corp. tracks.

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