Since 2003 the Six Nations Rugby Championship has been sponsored by RBS, but last year the bank announced it was not going to renew its £11million a year title deal.
What’s the problem?
For this example, early media analysis jumped on Brexit as the principal cause for the absence of commitment from a big sponsor.
Head of Six Nations Committee, John Feehan outlined what they were looking for - “we want a sponsor who is actively engaged not just in Britain, but around the world. We see potential in markets like the USA. We want a brand to align with that”.
Perhaps this put off RBS as it did not match their objectives - Or perhaps bankers spending time in Twickenham’s hospitality suites and having headline-grabbing sports rights deals is something they have less appetite for.
At the start of the The Aviva Rugby Premiership season, they were was asking similar questions with the potential absence of a headline sponsor. Aviva did continue with their sponsorship at a reduced fee for this season, but will the Premierhsip be able to secure a new sponsor by the start of next season, and more importantly, do companies want to spend vast sums of money sponsorsing at the top of end of the game?
Could there be a new way of sponsoring in rugby
Like infiltrating grass roots clubs...
SNAP have been working in grass roots rugby putting brands in contact with genuine end users. We have seen and put together engaging and worthwhile activations that enable sponsors to clearly see a return on their investment.
These sponsorships are not all about BIG BRANDING but about engaging with the hearts and minds of clubs members.
Guildford-based Holiday Company Beachcomber Tours sponsorship of local rugby clubs bought with it some extremely successful activations. The company were able to interact with members regularly through interactive coffee mornings whilst parents children were training. Beachcomber received holiday bookings from Mum's and Dads they spoke to in the club house at local rugby clubs.
Activations with different clubs allowed them to engage with the local community.
Similarly Lusso Homes, a property developer, has been able to interact with local people at SNAP club's. Although Lusso used branding to headline their sponsorship, the most effective return for them was hosting events with members and talking to them about their local club and their property needs.
This could be a fantastic way for big brands to sponsor moving forward, giving revenue and funding to grass roots clubs and seeing the fruits of their investments through communicating with their target market and end users.