TicketManager | WNBA Becomes Hotbed of Financial Services Competition

The biggest battles of the upcoming WNBA season will include rematches between two-time defending champion Las Vegas Aces and their Finals rivals New York Liberty, and soon-to-be rookie phenom Caitlin Clark versus the league’s established stars.

But an off-court clash among financial services sponsors is shaping up to be a compelling contest as well, serving as a powerful demonstration of brands’ belief in women’s sports partnerships as a relevant way to engage consumers and drive business objectives.

U.S. Bank is entering its third year as the official bank of the WNBA and as an inaugural WNBA Changemaker, the program the league bills as “a collective of purpose-driven companies that harness their power to elevate women in sports and support the league’s mission around advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

U.S. Bank’s primary Changemakers activation has been its She’s Invested: Supporting Emerging Female Leaders program in partnership with social impact platform Project Destined. In 2023, the program provided mentoring and financial education to 35 women of color from HBCUs and universities around Chicago, Washington D.C. and Atlanta.

However, two deals announced on the same day this week show that U.S. Bank will not have the court to itself this season.

Anticipating that the Indiana Fever will use the first pick in next month’s draft to select Clark, online investments and insurance provider Gainbridge has signed the breakout guard to serve as a brand ambassador.

Gainbridge already is a team sponsor, as well as naming rights partner for the Fever and NBA Pacers arena in Indianapolis, but as Max Campodall’Orto pointed out in this TicketManager blog post, the level of excitement about the NCAA’s all-time leading scorer turning pro will shine a bright spotlight on Clark, her new team and their sponsors.

Similar to U.S. Bank’s focus on college-age women, Gainbridge is expanding its offerings for young adults. Clark will join current brand endorsers Annika Sorenstam and Billie Jean King to promote ParityFlex, a women-focused annuity product.

Gainbridge and parent company Group 1001 are not waiting for the start of the WNBA season in May to get in on the Clark hype. As primary sponsors of the Andretti Autosport IndyCar team and Spire Motorsport NASCAR team, the companies will honor Women’s History Month by including Clark’s signature on both the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda driven by Colton Herta and the No. 77 Group 1001 Camaro driven by Corey LaJoie in Sunday’s IndyCar and NASCAR Cup races, respectively.

And, according to Sportico, “Clark, who is a golf enthusiast, could potentially make an appearance at an LGPA event too, as Gainbridge has partnered with the LGPA for the last six years and has served as a title sponsor for multiple events including The Annika at Pelican, which launched in 2023.”

Also competing for WNBA fans’ attention will be online bank Ally Financial, which added a multi-year, multi-million-dollar jersey patch and first-ever official retail banking partner sponsorship with the Aces to its considerable women’s sports portfolio. Ally also added two Aces players—Alysha Clark and Sydney Colson—to its Team Ally ambassador program.

Another financial services player, this one in the brokerage sector, is involved in the WNBA. Online stock trading platform provider Webull has its logo on the jerseys of the New York Liberty, part of a reported multi-year, $30-million-per-year deal signed with BSE Global in September 2021 that also includes uniform patches on the New York Nets, G League’s Long Island Nets and the Nets Gaming Crew 2K League team jerseys.