SBJ/May 2-8, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Wells Fargo goes big with rebranding at PGA Tour event

The red and yellow marks of Wells Fargo are new this year at the Quail Hollow Club, a precursor to what the bank has planned for the Carolinas later this year.

WELLS FARGO
Wells Fargo’s rebranding of its PGA Tour event includes a mobile museum that will teach fans about North Carolina golf.
Wells Fargo decided to put its name back on the PGA Tour event this year after a two-year hiatus because it is rebranding Wachovia branches to Wells Fargo this year. The rebranding of the tournament, which had been called the Quail Hollow Championship the past two years, lines up with the rebranding of its retail locations.

Wells Fargo acquired Wachovia for $15 billion in 2008, but kept its name off the tournament in 2009 and ’10 amid the controversy swirling over the federal bailout of banks.

The tournament’s new name — the Wells Fargo Championship — debuts this week in Charlotte, along with new community initiatives, a mobile marketing element near the course and hospitality that will rival the roaring pre-recession days of the tournament.

About 3,000 guests are expected for the week, including many of the bank’s high-end banking customers, investors and clients from all aspects of its business. That number is about the same, based on the contract with the PGA Tour, as it was in 2008, the last year the tournament was known as the Wachovia Championship.

The $7 million-a-year title sponsorship, which runs through 2014, is Wells Fargo’s largest sponsorship.

“We are very much activating the sponsorships we have now,” said Francie Gottsegen, a legacy Wachovia executive who is Wells Fargo’s senior vice president of sponsorships. Gottsegen has been around since the Wachovia Championship launched in 2003 and has helped manage it through the incognito years and the rebranding.

“We put our name back on the tournament to align from a timing perspective with the conversion of our retail locations from Wachovia to Wells Fargo,” Gottsegen said. “We’re taking a region-by-region approach. We’re about halfway through the East Coast and by this fall we’ll be through the Carolinas.”

LEIGH BLACK
Event banners line the streets in Charlotte, where the tournament will take place.
The rebranding started last year in the West, moved through the Midwest and recently finished in the North. Florida and other Southeastern states will be rebranded this summer, and the conversion will be complete by the end of the year in the Carolinas, which has the most outlets to change.

Wells Fargo is nearly national now, with branches in all but a few Northeastern states.

The introduction to the Wells Fargo brand in Charlotte this week will include a mobile museum that the bank will station near the golf course. Fans will learn about the 150-year history of Wells Fargo, as well as a new segment featuring the history of golf in North Carolina. The museum unfolds out of a 28-foot trailer into a 40-by-40 footprint.

“There really does seem to be a different feel this year,” said tournament director Kym Hougham. “The bank is re-engaged and there’s a buzz around the planning of it. People coming this year are going to feel a new energy around the tournament.”

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