The HSBC-owned direct bank has announced a five-year deal with venue operator SMG to become title sponsor of a new arena in Leeds, where First Direct is based. The 13,000-capacity First Direct Arena, which opens in July, marks the first major sponsorship in the bank’s 24-year history.
It forms part of plans to "re-energise" the brand with a new marketing approach, focusing its efforts on recruiting younger consumers.
"We’re looking at a new, younger target audience," explained Lisa Wood, head of marketing for First Direct.
"When First Direct launched we were out to challenge the banking sector, and the people we were attracting to the brand were 25 to 34 years old. But as the brand has matured, we are getting older customers. We want to refresh the brand and bring in younger customers again."
"We should be bigger than we are, so we have been looking at the brand and how best to re-energise it, and [the arena sponsorship] is part of that," she added.
Wood claims that the arena sponsorship will help attract new consumers and deepen its relationship with current customers: "We know our target audience are really interested in music and entertainment, as well as our customer base, so the sponsorship fits very well with our target audience."
"As a direct bank, we don’t have the high street presence, so the idea is we have a physical arena with our name on it gives us some presence. We can give something back to the local economy in Leeds, as well as getting our brand back out there to the kind of people we know are attracted to a direct bank," said Wood.
A new brand campaign set to roll out in the coming weeks, including First Direct’s first TV ad in over three years, and is expected to position the brand as a "non-banky bank".Follow @alex_brownsell