There has been no official announcement – one can only imagine it must be on hold until the Monday after a Tennessee Titans victory – but Pinnacle Financial Partners Inc. has confirmed to NashvillePost.com that it has entered into a six-year "bank of the Titans" marketing relationship.
Even with the football team off to an 0-6 start, and even after the breathtakingly awful showing in last Sunday's 59-0 loss to the New England Patriots, the homegrown bank's top man says the Titans brand is still golden.
Terry Turner, president and CEO of Pinnacle, said in an interview yesterday that in addition to the value of a new banking relationship with the Titans organization, Pinnacle now enjoys the marketing value that comes from the "high loyalty and affinity among Titans fans." It is already leveraging its exclusive right to market Titans checking accounts and a Titans debit card, formerly available only through Regions Bank, which was the Titans' bank for a decade.
"Those have been very popular bank products over the past decade," Turner said. "Our early experience is that there are a good number of people who are interested in opening accounts here in order to keep a Titans checking account or Titans debit card."
Turner, who did not reveal the cost of the new sponsorship, was an exec at First American National Bank when NFL football came to Nashville in the 1990s. He helped negotiate the marketing deal that made the announcement of "First American first downs" a regular feature of game day at the new stadium.
First American sold out to AmSouth Bank in 1999, leaving Nashville without a large, locally headquartered commercial bank – a gap Pinnacle set out to fill as a start-up in 2000. AmSouth later sold out to Regions, which inherited First American's 10-year contract to sponsor the Titans.
Jim Schmitz, Middle Tennessee Area Executive for Regions, told NashvillePost.com several months ago that the bank had decided not to renew the sponsorship when it expired at the end of last season.
"The Titans were looking for a new partner," Turner said. "We looked at the opportunity and decided it would be a great thing for us."
Pinnacle has somewhat famously never run any advertising. The Titans deal marks a departure from how it has gotten its name in front of the public in the past.
"When we started in 2000, with one location downtown, we would not have been an effective partner fot the Titans," Turner explained. Today, Pinnacle has $5.1 billion in assets, 32 Nashville-area branches and a presence in the Knoxville market.
"We're at a size and stature now where we can be a meaningful partner to the Titans and meet all their need," Turner said. "We also have a big enough retail distribution system to take advantage of the market opportunity they offer."
The bank has evolved not only in sheer size but also in its customer mix. "We started off focused exclusively on businesses and affluent individuals, because they were easy to reach through targeted, one-on-one calling on decision-makers, most of whom we knew," Turner recalled.
But Pinnacle shifted focus as it acquired competing local banks in 2006 and 2007 that had strong consumer banking bases. Turner said it now has about a 10 percent share of Nashville's consumer deposit market.
Those customers, as well as the Titans' season ticket holders, can count on hearing from Pinnacle soon about opportunities to put their money where the Titans are – though perhaps not until the Titans are somewhere other than the basement.
And on game days, as a successor to the old "First American first down," the opposing team's "red zone" between the 20-yard-line and the end zone will become the "Pinnacle scoring zone," according to Turner.
Plenty of Nashvillians, no matter where they do their banking, will be eager to see the Titans spend more time in that zone as they try to salvage this season.