PNC is banking on experiential marketing to engage high-net-worth clients.

The bank is placing more focus on one-of-a-kind experiences that can be used to cultivate relationships with customers and prospects. Those range from private wine tasting events hosted by athletes and other celebrities to pre-show backstage concerts/meet-and-greets at music venues.

PNC uses the experiences to engage wealth management and corporate banking customers.

“A lot of these customers have access to tickets or suites at sports and entertainment venues. It’s not about hosting them in a PNC suite. It’s about giving them an experience they can’t necessarily get on their own,” said Molly Sapienza, PNC group head of corporate sponsorships.

Case in point: PNC last month leveraged is partnership with Chip Ganassi Racing with a ride-and-drive event for 30 guests at the Monticello Motor Club in New York. The guests drove Ferraris, Lamborghinis and other luxury sports cars with tips from Ganassi.

“Chip talked about the ride and feel of each car, how you go in and out of turns, and helped give them a unique perspective from his point of view. The participants said it was one of the best experiences they ever had.”

The team owner has participated in other PNC-hosted events including a reception earlier this summer at a Porsche Museum in Raleigh, N.C.

“We’re the official bank of Chip Ganassi Racing, but you won’t see branding on cars. Our partnership is about experiential opportunities.”

The experiential marketing strategy plays into PNC’s goal of making its marketing dollars work harder, said Sapienza.

“In many cases there’s not a lot of hard costs. It’s a way to create meaningful and memorable experiences without a lot of extra costs.”

PNC also leverages stick-and-ball sports teams, music venues and other properties in support of the experiential marketing strategy.

The bank this year activated its new tie to the New York Giants with a skills and drills clinic for customers’ children at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center. The event was hosted by retired Giants players.

“If we can make parents look like heroes, it goes a long way.”

PNC also uses experiential marketing as a community relations play.

The bank this summer leveraged its sponsorship of the PNC Bank Music Pavilion in Charlotte, N.C. to host children from a local BGCA Club at a Lionel Richie/Cee Lo Green concert. The children were treated to a backstage tour and meet-and-greets with musicians, sound mixers and stage manager.

“They got an understanding of everything that is involved with putting on a live concert.”