HSBC Swings for Golfers in Big Apple

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International bank HSBC is targeting golfers in the New York metropolitan area using a London minicab, Brazilian Volkswagen 1966 microbus and checker cabs to draw attention to a tournament sponsorship and its Web site.


The efforts are central to the HSBC Drive Free Challenge, a multi-tiered promotion reinforcing HSBC's positioning and tagline, "The World's Local Bank." The challenge supports the bank's sponsorship of the Women's World Match Play Golf Tournament June 30 to July 3 at Hamilton Farms Golf Club, Gladstone, NJ.


"Golf is a great metaphor for HSBC: It has international appeal, it is inclusive and requires integrity to succeed," said Drew Neisser, president/CEO of HSBC agency Renegade Marketing Group, New York.


The addition of the auto motifs to its BankCab fleet from around the world stresses HSBC's international aspect and global network of branches. Each of the BankCabs is wrapped in golf-related graphics describing the program.


The promotion is open to anyone who can swing a golf club. The grand prize winner will need to hit two great shots, one at the HSBC golf simulator at promotional partner Paragon Sports and the other at a golf course.


Renegade's campaign includes in-branch displays, golf-attired street teams, radio remotes, online ads and the fleet of four HSBC BankCabs patrolling New York City.


These elements aim not only to generate buzz, but also to drive people to www.hsbcgolf.com/drivefree and Paragon stores. Online and in-branch activity tie the promotion back to specific HSBC products like new online savings accounts with competitive interest rates.


Consumers visiting the Paragon stores through July 3 get a free swing on a par-3 hole through the golf simulator. Visitors to the HSBCgolf.com site earn extra swings.


At the Paragon stores, the four entrants overall whose drives are closest to the pin will visit the Women's Match Play tournament site next month for a final swing on a real par-3 hole. The person getting closest to the course's pin wins the 1966 Volkswagen microbus.


This is the third year that HSBC and Renegade used vintage cabs as part of a promotion. This year's effort, however, differs from previous executions.


The BankCabs previously were their own self-contained promotion, offering free rides to HSBC customers. This program was popular with the customers. The Drive Free Challenge uses the BankCabs to attract new customers, alerting them to the competition and offering free rides to all who hail them, Neisser said.


"Amazingly, one of our drivers spotted three female golfers last week and gave them a ride to their hotel," Neisser said. "Turns out one of them was Annika Sorenstam, the No. 1 female golfer in the world, although our driver didn't know it until he helped her get her clubs out of the trunk. Annika thought the BankCab was so great she gave the driver her visor and autographed it 'to the greatest cabbie in New York.' "


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