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Volume 27 No. 5
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Social Studies: Ally Financial On Creating Unique Sports Content

Ally Financial is a relatively new player in the sports business scene, but in short order the company has made a name for itself with sponsorships for Jimmie Johnson's Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series car, the Int'l Champions Cup soccer exhibition series, the jersey for a potential Charlotte MLS team and naming rights to a PGA Tour Champions event. Ally Chief Marketing & PR Officer Andrea Brimmer (@Ally) said with the diversity of sports Ally has aligned with, it is important to put in the time to understand each audience. Brimmer: "If you look at our social for soccer, it is very different than our social around NASCAR. Take that another step and look at our social around the PGA Tour and golf, that's very different than what we'e been doing with NASCAR. When we can bring worlds together, we try to do that as well." An example of that came last month at the PGA Tour Champions' Ally Challenge. The event's pro-am included a foursome of Jack Nicklaus, former NHLer Henrik Zetterberg and musicians Kid Rock and Dierks Bentley. Brimmer said, "Jack made this unbelievable chip and it made SportsCenter's top-10, which gave us national attention again for the Ally Challenge. That's just being creative about what people love."

Must-follow: I really like to follow people like Jenny Rooney, the Forbes CMO Editor. I like Ad Age, and we’re building a new house right now, so I follow a lot of different people influential in mid-century design. I also follow others in the NASCAR world to get a sense of what they are doing -- especially the other Hendrick sponsors.
Favorite app: My favorite app is Houzz. I love it. I go on it every day and look at interior design and ideas of what other people are doing. I love shopping on it for things for the house.

Average time per day on social media: Thirty minutes max.

Significance of Jimmie Johnson/Hendrick Motorsports relationship:
Jimmie has a massive social following. He's extremely active on social, and not just around what he does on the track, but there is a lot of interest in what he does off the track. He is such a dynamic guy that has so many interests whether it is his running, his cycling or his family that people like to see. Automatically with Jimmie you get this massive social following that you can attach your brand to. Hendrick also has an enormous social following and they're very savvy in terms of how they use social media, how they create content and the way they cultivate customer relationships.

Spreading the word of Johnson's extension via social:
We launched it in social. Social is the new currency. The NASCAR fan base is exceptionally attached to following every single thing that their driver and their team is doing. We used social to announce the extension and are actually rewarding fans that are part of our social media family by giving them gift cards as a little thank you for being part of Ally Racing.

Using social media to showcase sports relationships:
What I tell my team is, people don't wake up in the morning and say, "I can't wait to go to my bank's social media channel." We had to really figure out how to create a value exchange in social media for customers where they want to interact with us in social because we are providing a value and a service to them. In exchange, it allows us the opportunity to engage with them and give them information on our brand as well.

Gaining exposure through soccer:
It's a very diverse sport and the diversity allows us to tap into a sport that has a millennial base of customers. We love the way that demographic has looked for us. It's a very rabid fan base, not too dissimilar to NASCAR where people love to and are glued and very loyal to sponsors. Soccer and MLS align with the values that we stand for, and that's an important part of any sponsorship that we look for. What (Commissioner) Don Garber has done with MLS has been astounding. The growth of the sport in this country is amazing, and for us it was an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of something we think is going to explode.

Activating around Champions Tour:
The challenge is I have a PGA Tour Champions event that happens in Warwick Hills, Michigan, and how do I get national attention for something that could be limited in terms of fan focus until we bring that same notion of disruptive thinking to it, which is how do we make it that it is something for everybody? Winning the opportunity to be Mark O'Meara's caddie was a super creative way to get national attention for something. For a lot of people who are just plain golf fans, the opportunity to come and be a caddie for a golfer like that for the weekend is a big draw. We used that as a way to bring national attention to that weekend.

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