The second day of Customer Expo 2019 went off without a hitch despite the extremely cold weather of Indianapolis, Indiana. One of the highlights from the morning sessions was Bridget Sponsky’s presentation on the meaning of sponsorship. Sponsky is the Senior Director of Enterprise Marketing at Ally Financial.
Sponsky started her presentation by describing the necessity of decent banks and financial services for consumers. Recognizing this, Ally decided that it needed to differentiate itself, to become better than its competitors. This would not be an easy task, however, as Ally doesn’t have as much expendable capital as some other banks.
Knowing this, Sponsky outlined a plan to outwit competitors with value-sharing campaigns. The company now works to excite and entertain families to become money-mindful and to shift from a “purchase” mindset to a “brand usage” mindset. The benefit of the second mindset is that being a loyal customer gives people access to added value: services, exclusive offers, discounts, and unique experiences.
Sponsky emphasized that Ally is looking specifically at the values of perception, momentum, and belief, which will enable the company to choose the right partners. To Ally, a unique sponsorship must be able to deliver differentiated experiences, focus on passion points, make an impact, and contribute to the goals of both parties. In short, partnership is about forming a symbiotic relationship that leads to greater profits for each company.
To illustrate her company’s success, Sponsky shared the story of partnering with the famous stock car racing driver Jimmie Johnson. She stressed that the campaign was not only about putting a logo on the car but also partnering to share and deliver Ally’s culture and beliefs. In fact, an NBC spokesperson said of the partnership, “Ally is defining what sponsorship for motorsport is.”
Lastly, Sponsky emphasized the importance of understanding that customers are human, not numbers. She said, “Sponsorship is an act of heart. And for the best brands, it would always be.”

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