Local bank teaming up with Fresno State athletes

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- College sports has entered a new world. One where student-athletes can now profit off their own name, image and likeness.

At Fresno State for instance, twin sisters Hanna and Haley Cavinder have been able to capitalize on their massive social media following by signing lucrative endorsement deals with some national brands.

Valley-based Fresno First Bank is investing in local student-athletes.

The single branch bank operates with about $1 billion in assets as it services clients all over the country.

Now, it's the first local business to hire jocks from Fresno State to endorse its brand.

"Teamwork, hustle, hard work and all these things when you think about sports. How do we get that and melt it all together with what we're trying to sell as a financial institution," said Fresno First Bank CEO Steve Miller.

Up until recently, college student-athletes could not capitalize off their own name, image or likeness.

But the change by the NCAA has opened the door for individuals to profit and led to local businesses offering endorsement deals to athletes.

Fresno First Bank has teamed up with a handful of Bulldogs from various sports for a number of not-so-serious, witty ads that also feature bank CEO, Steve Miller.

"We film the commercial and then we re-purpose that asset over all of our media channels. It's on traditional TV, pay for cable ads, LinkedIn Facebook and a lot of the social media."

While there is still plenty of questions surrounding this new era of paying college athletes, the endorsement deals offer a unique marketing opportunity for local businesses as well.

"Because some of the athletes also have big followings, it's that network effect," Miller said. "A couple of them went viral -- 80,000-90,000 views for a small bank commercial in Fresno."

Miller won't say how much the bank is paying for student-athlete endorsements but will admit the financial institution is seeing a great return on its investment so far.

"All of our commercials with our customers, that's typically what we do, we have our customers speak for us," he said. "Those come across so well with a consumer who is thinking about switching banks."

The one major restriction by the NCAA is that school or conference names, logos or uniforms not be used.

That's why you shouldn't see any reference to Bulldogs or Fresno State or even performance highlights in any of the ads.
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