Monday, March 02, 2009

Phil Mickelson wins bailout money, Ogilvy swaps golf ball mid-hole and match play philosophy

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Until the recent flood of bank bailouts occurred, I'm not sure that the masses knew, or really cared, what financial institutions did with customer funds, so long as the economy was secure. So, in a sense, good came from this massive overhaul as disclosure helped open the eyes of the world to the vast waste and appetence that banks have kept hidden under their veils of secrecy.

TMZ recently educated viewers on one such bank, Northern Trust, which spent millions of dollars on the sponsorship and advertising related to it's same-named tournament. Extravagant parties were thrown for hundreds of clients and employees of the company and although local hotels, businesses, entertainers and even tournament winner Phil Mickelson received benefit from the outpouring of capital, it hardly helped put the economy back on track.

According to TMZ, a Northern Trust representative stated that operating funds were utilized, not bailout dollars. Of course, that logic seems skewed because once bailout was accepted by the bank, it became a part of their total assets. Today it was reported that Northern Trust will repay the $1.6 billion loan but wouldn't it have been more forthright had they done that without being pressured by lawmakers?

Rich Gotham, president of the Boston Celtics, believes that the visibility of funds became heightened with the New York Mets naming rights deal that surrounded Citi Field. "While Citi is crashing and the government is bailing them out [with $45 billion in TARP funding] this all wouldn’t be so topical. The reality is that banks still want to do sports marketing, but right now there’s a stigma associated with it and there may be for some time."

The exposure of both CitiBank and Northern Trust is now forcibly paving the way for other financial institutions to reassess the way bailout funds are spent.

Morgan Stanley, who received $10 billion in rescue funds, has stated that they are canceling client entertainment venues at the Memorial Tournament. The Wachovia Championship is also tightening its belt, so claims parent company Wells Fargo but no rumblings have been heard from Merrill Lynch whose "Shootout" is still on schedule at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Florida.

Mark Ingall, Director of global marketing for Citibank believes that the average citizen may be too simple-minded to understand that marketing takes many forms, "from telemarketing to hospitality at a major sporting event" and that banks such as Citi, "Don’t look at [naming rights] as just slapping our name on something. We look at sports as a powerful and tangible way to connect with [business-to-business] and consumer customers, current and prospective.”

Representative Barney Frank (one of the perpetrators of the mortgage market collapse) has an opposing view, and one with which I agree which questions whether, " … anybody has ever opened a bank account or decided to buy a CD because a bank’s name is on the stadium."

Financial institutions should be using funds for the growth of small business and the resurgence of our nation's economy. Where it is still a good idea to market to sports enthusiasts, the gluttinous attitude adopted by the powers-that-be who live in their ivory towers should realize that incoming funds should be rerouted to jumpstart the economy, not to fund thrill-seeking jaunts and lavish parties.

Golf for Beginners also discusses Geoff Ogilvy's use of the Rules of Golf to his advantage when faced with a thorny cactus bush and we offer our listeners a few tips on how to play match-play to their advantage.

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Photo Credit: © Stuart Carlson

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