M&T Bank Corp.'s purchase of the naming rights for the Baltimore Ravens stadium is the capstone of a broad marketing campaign designed to bolster M&T's fledgling presence in the region, executives of the Buffalo-based bank said yesterday.
"From a business standpoint, [the naming-rights deal] is an extremely cost-effective way of building brand awareness, recognition and reputation," said Atwood "Woody" Collins III, president and chief operating officer of M&T Bank's Mid-Atlantic Division and an executive vice president of the bank.
M&T officials said the bank has signed a 15-year, $75 million naming-rights deal for the stadium, formerly known as PSINet Stadium for the bankrupt Internet-services company.
The deal is to be officially announced this morning at what will be called M&T Bank Stadium.
M&T, which completed its purchase of Baltimore-based Allfirst Financial Inc. last month, is running radio ads that feature the M&T and Allfirst names.
It intends to inaugurate a "major" marketing campaign to coincide with its July Fourth weekend conversion of all Allfirst branches into M&T locations.
Before purchasing Allfirst, M&T had about a dozen branches in the state.
The purchase of Allfirst, the naming-rights deal, the interim advertising spots and the image campaign scheduled to accompany the bank-branch conversions add up to four major marketing moves that will quickly make the M&T brand name well-known in Baltimore, said Eugene Fram, a marketing professor who is familiar with M&T.
"It's a one, two, three, four punch," said Fram, the J. Warren McClure Marketing Research Professor at Rochester Institute of Technology's College of Business.
"It's very smart. They are wasting no time [starting] to build an institutional identity in the community. It's not necessarily going to generate immediate incremental sales ... but it says that `we're a fine organization, and this all is to remind you that we are here.' People will see that [M&T name] every day as they pass the ballpark."
With its April 1 purchase of Allfirst from Allied Irish Banks PLC, M&T has become more important nationally, as well as locally. The $3.1 billion purchase vaulted M&T from the 26th-largest bank in the nation to 18th.
The Allfirst name had been tainted by a currency-trading scandal that came to light last year and resulted in $691.2 million in losses.
M&T has long had the reputation of being a principled bank that gets heavily involved in the communities where it has a major presence.
M&T intends to follow that plan in Baltimore, said Collins, the M&T executive. It will be contributing substantially to charitable causes and will be involved in philanthropic endeavors, he said.
The naming-rights deal will be a huge image-booster, Collins said. In addition to the 70,000 people who attend each game, millions more watch on television, he said.
Additional reminders will be offered by the M&T automated teller machines at the stadium and to the 81 million cars that pass it each year, he said.
All told, M&T will be creating about 350 million "impressions" - notices of the M&T brand - each year through the deal, Collins said.
"We're a local bank. We built our reputation as being a local bank. ... Baltimore is the 18th largest [banking] market in the nation. Make no mistake about it, there are tremendous opportunities to be a local bank in this market. That's the way we rate this."
Sun staff writer Jon Morgan contributed to this article.