BoI accused of 'ambush' over Olympics promotion
Bank of Ireland has been accused of "blatant ambush marketing" by the President of the Irish Olympic Council, Pat Hickey, after advertising a 'Gold Deposit Account' to attract savings to the bank.
The fund, which closed last Friday, offered depositors a 0.5 per cent premium on top of a three per cent interest rate if Ireland "win gold" this summer.
The advertisement, which was aimed at depositors who were prepared to invest a lump sum of anything from €10,000 to €1m, said "it is your chance to share in Ireland's success this summer" adding that "if Ireland wins, you win".
A spokesman for Bank of Ireland said yesterday that "absolutely no ambush is intended".
It is believed the bank's CEO, Richie Boucher, has offered to meet Mr Hickey to discuss the issue.
In a strongly worded letter to Bank of Ireland last week, Mr Hickey said the advertising leaflet caused "great offence" to young Irish athletes who are competing in the London Olympic Games without any financial support from Bank of Ireland.
"You are piggy-backing on the back of young Irish athletes to further your profits," he wrote. "Coming from a bank that has been bailed out with Irish taxpayers' money, it is a disgrace."
He has also warned the bank that a copy of the leaflet advertising the 'Gold Deposit Account' had been sent to the legal department of the London organising committee.
Although the Gold Deposit Account promises that it "pays you extra interest if Ireland wins", it does not specifically say that this involves the Irish team winning a gold medal at the London Olympic Games.
Promotional literature in bank branches also makes it quite clear that Bank of Ireland is not a sponsor of the Irish Olympic team or any of the athletes involved.
"We launched this account in a positive spirit to allow customers partake in the excitement around the games," said BoI yesterday. "There was no legal breach-- but we did, as a courtesy, withdraw our marketing material on hearing the reaction of the Olympic Council.
"The account offers a three per cent EAR fixed interest rate for a one-year fixed term, but that interest rate increases to 3.5 per cent EAR fixed if Ireland wins a gold medal."
The offer ended on Friday.