Staff Writer
May 8, 2018

For BNP Paribas, Singapore’s centre court has been a smash hit

As title sponsor of the WTA Finals in Singapore, BNP Paribas has increased brand awareness, championed sustainability and helped connect APAC communities.

Tennis legend Martina Navratilova makes an appearance at BNP Paribas' Sustainable Future Forum, held in tandem with the WTA Finals.
Tennis legend Martina Navratilova makes an appearance at BNP Paribas' Sustainable Future Forum, held in tandem with the WTA Finals.

For over 40 years, BNP Paribas has found a dependable partner in tennis. Sponsoring over 500 events each year, from social play to professional tennis, the bank has volleyed some of the values it shares with the sport—fair play, high performance, and agility—on the global stage.

In 2014, BNP Paribas leveraged its long-standing partnership with the sport to bring the WTA Finals to Singapore, beginning a five-year commitment as title sponsor. In the process, the bank helped to bring the tournament to a host city in Asia-Pacific for the first time.

“For one, we believed that Singapore would be an ideal location for such a prestigious event and wanted to support the country’s ambitions to be a world-class sporting destination,” says Cho-Teng Kooi, managing director, investment banking Asia-Pacific, BNP Paribas.

With the tournament entering its final year in Singapore, the event has taken on added significance for the bank: the 2018 WTA Finals coincide with the 50th anniversary of BNP Paribas Singapore.

“As BNP Paribas marks our 50th Anniversary here, this year’s tournament is especially meaningful to us. Our sponsorship of the WTA Finals demonstrates a wider, long-term commitment to both Singapore and Asia-Pacific,” says Kooi.

Asia-Pacific and Singapore continue to be key growth regions for BNP Paribas. The bank has seen its revenue in Asia-Pacific grow to more than €3 billion since 2015, from €2 billion in 2012.

“As a global bank, we believe that just as important as economic growth is the development of communities alongside it,” says Kooi. “Through the WTA, we can make a real difference in the communities where we do business through multiple touch-points: hosting key clients of our businesses across Asia-Pacific; our community work with organisations such as the Little Arts Academy and the Leng Kee Community Centre; and our flagship client event, the BNP Paribas Sustainable Future Forum.”

Over the years, BNP Paribas has worked with global sports and entertainment agency Lagardère Sports to increase brand exposure during the WTA Finals. Those efforts have included a number of marketing activities that have helped the tournament grow in scope and maturity, while giving the bank a point of contact with tennis fans in Asia—for example, the bank’s curated entertainment zone at the Fan Village offers fun, family-friendly activities such as student art competitions and exhibitions flanked by public autograph sessions with WTA players and legends. At the same time, the bank’s corporate hospitality suite at the Racquet Club is an annual experiential tour de force that its clientele look forward to for the fine French wines and cuisine, intimately exclusive meet-and-greets, and perfect match views.

In 2017, the WTA Finals’ strong on-court programming and off-court entertainment attracted 133,000 fans, the event’s largest attendance in Singapore and a 36 percent jump from the year before. Not only has the event continued to draw strong television viewership from 166 countries around the world, the WTA Finals also innovated new ways for fans to experience the action throughout the tournament, with social video views exploding by 21 percent in 2017 to 27.8 million.

“We have seen a significant improvement in our brand recognition and awareness in the region, too. In the Financial Times 2017 Bank Image Survey, for example, we ranked in the top ten in brand familiarity in Asia-Pacific. The large-scale and high-profile branding of the greatest international women’s sporting event in the calendar has allowed us to create visibility and share of mind amongst our clients, prospects and the wider public across Asia-Pacific.” - Cho-Teng Kooi, managing director, investment banking Asia-Pacific, BNP Paribas

Not to mention enrich BNP Paribas’ relationship with tennis while promoting gender equality, diversity and empowerment of women—all pillars of sustainability, a focus area for the bank.

“Gender equality and diversity are key accelerators for sustainable development. Without our best and brightest working together on a level playing field, no community can reach its true potential. That’s one reason why the WTA Finals has always resonated with us—it embodies the pinnacle of equal opportunity, hard work and merit,” notes Kooi.

From left to right: Kim Clijsters; 2017 WTA Finals winner Caroline Wozniacki; Pierre Veyres, CEO of BNP Paribas Singapore and regional head of SEA; 2017 WTA Finals runner-up Venus Williams; Chris Evert

During the WTA Finals in 2016, BNP Paribas activated its global tennis platform for a business-focused audience, introducing prospects and clients to their efforts in sustainability with the first BNP Paribas Sustainable Future Forum (SFF). The BNP Paribas SFF brings together corporates, investors and financial institutions across Asia-Pacific to discuss solutions around sustainable global growth, working towards ensuring private sector capital flows to benefit all levels of society. Outside of the forum, the bank linked delegates with their marquee tennis event in Asia-Pacific, inviting them to watch live tennis at the Centre Court.

“Hosting the SFF alongside the WTA Finals is a logical connection—with the best women’s tennis players in the world taking centre stage, it’s the perfect opportunity to shine a spotlight on the role of gender equality in driving sustainable development and progress,” says Kooi.

In 2017, BNP Paribas took the forum one step further, aligning its goals to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. On top of a discussion led by WTA legend Martina Navratilova on creating business through gender diversity, the SFF drew attention to the challenges, commercial solutions and opportunities on its path to ensuring a sustainable future. Over at the WTA Finals, among other efforts, BNP Paribas replaced plastic products in VIP lounges and at concessions stands with biodegradable cups and straws, brought out a “Power Pedal” bike station where fans could charge their phones with their own two feet, and set up a plastic bottle recycling machine to get tennis fans—as well as the over 500 delegates who attended the SFF—actively involved in environmentalism.

WTA Finals attendees bike to charge their phones at the "Power Pedal" station

This year, Kooi expects BNP Paribas to use its growing visibility in Singapore to lead the conversation about sustainability even further, while it gears up to bring the entire tournament to greater heights. “As we mark BNP Paribas Singapore’s 50th anniversary, tennis fans can look forward to even greater levels of excitement as we celebrate the tournament’s final year here with a bang!”

The WTA Finals has allowed BNP Paribas to establish a stronger presence in Singapore and connect with clients across Asia-Pacific. While tennis and banking might seem to be an unusual pairing on first thought, for BNP Paribas the partnership has been all aces.

Lagardère Sports is a leading sports marketing agency with a global network of local experts dedicated to delivering innovative solutions—from marketing and digital activation, to hospitality services that include comprehensive partnership development—for clients such as BNP Paribas, to provide them with privileged access to the infinite opportunities of sports.


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