Smart Financial Final Four Sponsorship a Slam Dunk

HOUSTON, TX – The NCAA Final Four was held on April 1st and 3rd at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, as the culmination of the March Madness basketball tournament. For the first time, the NCAA allowed an opportunity for local businesses to become limited sponsors in this high profile national event. Organized by the Houston Sports Authority and the Houston Local Organizing Committee, Smart Financial was selected as a Host City Supporter for this year’s Final Four encompassing a wide range of community and marketing opportunities to extend the Smart Financial brand in association with this prestigious event.

i. a focus on kids and education, the HLOC developed a number of community initiatives with the NCAA that allowed Smart Financial staff to volunteer and participate as ambassadors of the credit union. These included Read to the Final Four (a reading initiative encompassing all the major school districts in the Houston metro area); a public park restoration project and new community basketball court; The NCAA Fan Jam interactive display at Smart Financial partner Woodchase Park; and NCAA Fanfest and Media Center volunteers. In addition, Smart Financial donated a trip for two to the West Regionals in Las Vegas to Houston Children’s Charity which raised $27,000 at its annual Gala this past winter. “Smart Financial’s donation of the Final Four package and trip to the West Regionals in Las Vegas was one of the highlights of our live auction at our annual Gala this past fall,” said Gary Becker, Houston Children’s Charity Board Member. “The winning bid was over $27,000, which went directly to help underserved children in the Houston community. Partners like Smart Financial and their commitment to philanthropy and volunteerism are incredibly important”. Two Smart Financial staff volunteers also won a trip to Las Vegas to see the West Regionals at T-Mobile Arena for all their volunteer efforts with this project.

Smart Financial used the sponsorship as leverage to create a number of marketing initiatives which included a partnership with iHeart Media and local restaurant chain Big City Wings to promote the Smart Madness Giveaway in which the winner received a trip for two to New York for the East Regionals as well as tickets to the Final Four games in Houston. Both Smart Financial and Big City Wings ran promotional spots across multiple iHeart radio stations cross promoting each other and increasing brand awareness twofold. Signage from the promotion was on display at all Smart Financial branches, Big City Wing locations and the Smart Financial Centre concert venue. The contest received nearly 400 entries for the trip giveaway. Smart Financial will market membership and loan products to all entries to create new opportunities for the credit union.

Smart Financial also created a debt consolidation campaign around the Final Four bracket concept for promotions in branch locations, on social media, website and at the Smart Financial Centre concert venue. (See attached assets).

“The Host City Supporter sponsorship was a dynamic way for Smart Financial to extend our brand and align with a high profile national sporting event that took over the city,” said Andrew Huang, Vice-President of Marketing for Smart Financial. “For us, this type of alignment with major city events and our sponsorship of the Smart Financial Centre is a way for us to differentiate from our competitors and strategically attach the Smart Financial brand to major events and concerts. People are passionate about music and sports and this is an ideal vehicle for us to communicate our core services and brand promise of people, passion and purpose”, said Huang.

About Smart Financial

Smart Financial Credit Union has been dedicated to providing superior financial services since 1934, making it one of the oldest and well-established credit unions in the Houston Metro area. With 13 locations in Greater Houston, Smart Financial is a state-chartered credit union that is owned and operated by its members. Smart Financial provides a full range of financial services to more than 63,000 members. In 2016, Smart Financial became the naming rights sponsor of Smart Financial Centre in Sugar Land, Texas which has become one of the top mid-sized concert venues in the world. For more information, visit or engage with Smart Financial Credit Union on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Smart Madness Winner