GMAC was passing, not receiving, the bucks when the financial arm of General Motors undertook its first national title sponsorship late last year.
The finance company, seeking to make a bigger name for itself, spent $750,000 to be the title sponsor of the GMAC Mobile Alabama Bowl, an NCAA football bowl game held in Mobile, Ala., Dec. 20.
Although the vast majority of GMAC's revenues come from the dealer wholesale business, Dave Bender, Southeast operations marketing director, says the company wants to expand its reach.
'A lot of people still don't realize that we do more than finance cars,' Bender says. 'It's very important that the general public knows who we are.'
In addition to dealer and consumer auto loans, GMAC has insurance, mortgage and commercial finance divisions. The company had $1.5 billion in earnings in 1999, up 15 percent from the previous year, with 69 percent of those earnings coming from the auto division.
Bender says the company spent $100,000 as one of the sponsors of the 1999 Mobile Bowl game, but it did little more than hold parties for area dealers. For the 2000 bowl game, however, the company set up booths during the weeklong festivities, passing out information about GMAC services. It also gathered names of likely prospects.
GMAC sees a lot of potential for its mortgage business, since it owns the Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate name. But there's ground to be gained on the auto front, too: Of every 100 cars GM dealers sell, only 40 percent are financed by GMAC.
'We want to educate people about how diverse we are,' says Jim Kovus, vice president of marketing for GMAC Residential. 'Even within (GM), brand awareness is still a challenge.'