A marketing relationship agreement that will join Webster Bank as a multimedia partner with UConn and the UConn Alumni Association was announced Thursday.
The agreement was described as a “unique partnership” that for the first time will bring together all aspects of the University’s marketing activities, including its high-profile athletic program and efforts to reach more than 200,000 alumni and 28,000 UConn students.
The comprehensive partnership will integrate media, hospitality, venue signage as well as use of intellectual property for branding, promotions and affinity marketing. The program will be managed by IMG College, the nation’s leading collegiate multimedia marketing and licensing/brand management company which currently manages the UConn athletics marketing program.
“What you’ll find is we’ll be everywhere,” said Jerry Plush, president and chief operating officer of Webster Bank during a news conference at UConn Alumni House in Storrs. “You will feel Webster’s presence on campus at all of the events. What’s landmark about this deal is that by encompassing students and alumni, we’ll be closely aligned with UConn. We’re certainly excited about embracing everyone at UConn.”
Webster Bank will also provide support for the University’s youth and community relations programs as well as for the new 70,000-square-foot Basketball Development Center scheduled to be constructed adjacent to Harry A. Gampel Pavilion on the former site of Memorial Stadium. Jim Calhoun, Hall of Fame coach of the men’s basketball team, has served as a spokesman for the bank since 1998.
Plush said the five-year partnership agreement includes a five-year renewal option. He noted that Webster Bank, which has its origins in Waterbury, Conn., where UConn has a regional campus, has a history of community service, with its employees volunteering to support community-based organizations.
“One of the things we talked to the team about during the course of the discussions is: How can we be helpful to prepare these kids better or the future?” Plush said. “They’re focused on their studies, all the other activities they’re involved in. We think it is important that we act and step up and help in running some courses on campus to help prepare kids. It’s a really great stage in a young person’s life to understand financial responsibility. We’d love to be the institution that will help to do that.”
Warde Manuel, UConn’s director of athletics, said the long-term agreement and commitment to youth programs is a significant factor for both the University and Webster Bank.
“You want to know there is a long-term commitment, that there’s no wavering,” Manuel said. “There is a commitment from both sides to really help build the relationship, strengthen the partnership for both our benefits — for our student-athletes, our coaches and our fans for the things that we do. On the flip side they know there is a long-term partner that is going to support them and to activate the partnership in a way that is meaningful for their customers.”
Plush said Webster Bank will have several automatic teller machines set up at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, home field for Husky football games, and at Gampel Pavilion, on-campus home of men’s and women’s basketball. He added that the bank will pursue proposals for ATMs on campus, as well as the possibility of a full-service branch of the bank on campus.
“Even though much of what is happening today with banking these days is electronic, we think it’s really important to still have some of that physical presence,” he said.
Lisa Lewis, executive director of the UConn Alumni Association, said alumni will now have the opportunity to participate in a unified banking program connected to the University, including a branded credit card program.
“To have one cohesive message to alumni, whether it’s a program, a service or a partner, is easier and more helpful for them,” she said. “The branded credit card is something people enjoy having. Whether you are at a restaurant or the store and it has the Husky on it, a conversation gets started. It’s about an affiliation, a relationship and pride.”
Plush said the announcement that Husky men’s hockey will become a member of the Hockey East Conference in 2014, was a contributing factor to the bank’s decision to work with UConn.
“We’re very excited about UConn joining Hockey East. We think that’s going to give the University great exposure,” he said. “It will bring a lot of exciting games here to Connecticut, which I think is great for the economy and it will be great to generate interest in hockey in the state and a little bit of Husky pride when we go to places like Boston College and Boston University. “
Manuel added that working with a Connecticut-based business provides advantages for the University and the state.
“It’s just like recruiting,” Manuel said. “It doesn’t mean we’re not going to look elsewhere, but I want my coaches looking at the great student-athletes in this state. We’re going to do the same with companies. We’re always going to go with companies in this state to help them. It’s a call to other companies and people out there to say it was important for Webster to invest in the student-athletes and it encourages others to look at that in terms of partnerships.”