A few financial institutions in the region have built their brands around sponsorship of the arts.
However, it is the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) that remains in the lead for its association with patronage of the arts and is recognised for sponsoring many art exhibitions in addition to ArtDubai.
Other art venues such as the Dubai Community Theatre and Arts Centre have received multi-level support from local and international banks. Treading a similar track, Sarasin-Alpen, hosted its annual Global Fusion music event for the fourth year. The event, which took place last week, is a by-product of the bank's branding strategy and marks a tradition, according to Rohit Walia, Executive Vice-Chairman and CEO, Bank Sarasin-Alpen and Alpen Capital.
From a branding perspective, what does Global Fusion signify?
At Bank Sarasin-Alpen and Alpen Capital, we have a strong tradition of supporting the arts and music. Global Fusion is a very important event for enhancing our brand identity in the region.
Global Fusion signifies the power of music in transcending regional and cultural boundaries. The concert brings together artists from across the world, from different musical genres and provides them with a single platform. Such a setting is a perfect occasion for networking with our clients.
Financial institutions have a different relationship with consumers than other brands. How does Global Fusion convey the message of Sarasin-Alpen and Alpen Capital?
Banking has a universal language and the most important factor in the relationship that financial institutions across the world share with their consumers is 'Trust'. This intangible quality of building a long-term relationship with a consumer with an underlying promise of keeping one's money safe is universal.
Global Fusion brings the universal language of music to our clients. Over the last few years, we have brought together musical geniuses from across the globe. Since last year, we have also used this platform to promote talented local musicians across the region.
How do you measure the sustainability of your brand in relation to this marketing strategy?
Global Fusion is the flagship event of Bank Sarasin-Alpen and Alpen Capital and is a very important part of our marketing strategy. The first fusion event marked the launch of our operations in Dubai back in 2005 and since then, this event has grown with our brand. We are now in our sixth year of fusion events with the current concert in January 2010. Over these years, we have taken the event to each of our locations. We also hold an annual concert in Qatar and Oman. In fact, just as Bank Sarasin-Alpen and Alpen Capital have grown from strength to strength over the years, the Global Fusion concert too has grown.
Global Fusion is a part of a strategic plan to build Sarasin-Alpen/Alpen Capital brand. What are the other aspects of this strategy and how do they complement each other and the branding message of the bank?
There are many elements to our marketing strategy. While Global Fusion is our flagship event, we also hold other events like client round table sessions with our chief investment officers, Golf Day etc. All these events are designed to build our brand in the region and complement our various public relations activities.
In general, our approach is to hold exclusive events. We rely more on events and PR as compared to advertising. Our research reports and publications are eagerly awaited and receive extensive press coverage, helping to build our brand in the region as a strong, secure and sustainable Swiss bank with a 167-year-long history.
Banks in Europe are usually keen on allocating budgets for the arts and art events. However, during the crisis much of those budgets were slashed resulting in cancellations of events, decrease in art funding projects and less support for museums and art venues. Was your budget for marketing cut and by how much during 2009?
The financial crisis has made organisations conscious about their costs. While we are careful about our costs, we realise that in business you have to spend money before you can make money and all that you spend is not a 'cost' but an 'investment' in your brand.
I cannot comment on the budgets but I would like to state that the Global Fusion concert is now in its sixth year and we will not only continue to hold the concert in all our three locations – Dubai, Doha and Muscat – but also extend it to other locations where we open our offices.
With the crisis people have cut their spending on leisure and entertainment. How does such an event remain relevant in these times?
The Global Fusion concert is not a ticketed event and is open only by invitation to our clients. We have always received a very positive and encouraging response to all our concerts and in today's troubled times, what better way than to forget one's worries by relaxing with some world-class music.
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