Into the whole debate of paying college athletes or where the money goes from brands to the University came a pretty unique sponsorship pulled together by Virginia Tech as a way to use athletics to fund other programs; or at least those who teach other programs well outside of athletics.
Union First Market Bank has a coveted spot in the brand category for the Hokies, they are bank of choice for the athletic department, and with that get all the usual signage, radio sponsorship and broadcast spots that can help grow the bank’s visibility in a very crowded marketplace and they try to get a leg up with students looking to build out a financial portfolio in and around Blacksburg. The affinity with the school can be invaluable. However the institution, through the creative folks at IMG College, came up with a way to amplify the program way beyond athletics, and create good will and good opportunity all across the University, by taking some of the money to fund academic projects and research.
Junior faculty fellowships support the research and teaching of untenured assistant or associate professors who show remarkable potential. They encourage innovation in teaching and research and help the university retain its most promising junior faculty members. A percentage of the revenue produced by Union’s endowment (funds are invested for growth) will be deployed to fulfill the gift mission. Funds will be used by the Union Junior Faculty Fellow to advance research and education within the Pamplin College centered on entrepreneurship and small business development. Funds may also be used to support programming to include the business plan competition. The Junior Faculty Fellow may also participate in guest-lecture opportunities and conduct symposia.
So while there will be lots of brand affinity for the bank by the thousands in person and on TV that will see the Union First Market logo and all that goes with the traditional spend, the spillover effect created by assisting in a non-traditional area will give an added boost, and hopefully grow a University platform not based on wins and losses.
Nice well thought-out spin for Va Tech as their partner banks on brand success that is both traditional and a little out of the ordinary.