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At the top end of sport, sponsorships have become true partnerships – rich, multi-layered marketing strategies tailored to the specific objectives of a brand and fully integrated into a rights holder’s activity. After much debate and deliberation, the Leaders Sports Awards judges decided upon these six as best-in-class examples of the art form. But only one can win: all will be revealed at the Leaders Sports Awards 2018, in London next Tuesday.
English rugby league club Widnes Vikings formed a groundbreaking primary club partnership with the National Health Service (NHS) for the 2018 Super League season. The landmark partnership has seen the creation of a new brand called ‘Beat The Scrum’, which is used to raise awareness of how people can lead healthier lifestyles and make the right choices when accessing NHS services. Through an innovative mix of digital promotion, PR campaigns, stadium advertising, as well as presence on the front of the Vikings’ 2018 playing shirts, the partnership has made a major contribution towards reducing the pressures faced by vital NHS services, such as accident and emergency departments.
In 2017, NatWest evolved the role of sponsorship by instilling a higher purpose and addressing an issue of social importance. The bank did so to underpin its new brand promise – ‘We are what we do’ – and to kickstart a new phase of its involvement in English cricket. NatWest launched ‘Cricket Has No Boundaries’, a campaign that showcases and celebrates the diversity of modern cricket in England and Wales. Through a powerful creative featuring a disabled cricketers and a young girl playing street cricket, activation including donation to the Chance to Shine charity on matchdays and a documentary series, the campaign has shone a light on what NatWest believes to be the most inclusive and diverse sport in the UK and helped more people access the sport through the Chance to Shine partnership.
The Los Angeles Clippers NBA team and social app Bumble have partnered together in a global, cross-industry effort to advance gender equality. Together, they are leveraging their influence, resources and commitment to diversity in their respective industries to empower women in the workplace. The partnership serves as a catalyst for communities to think about ways they can continue to empower women; longer-term the goal is to change the status quo about women leadership and equality for future generations. The Clippers debuted the Bumble ‘Empowerment’ badge on its jerseys, while a platform to mentor young professional women who aspire to be leaders is in the works.
MKTG works in partnership with shampoo brand Head & Shoulders to optimise the brand’s sponsorship of the National Football League. As Head & Shoulders’ marketing agency of record, MKTG manages the NFL partnership and key relationships with the league office, teams and athletes, notably current spokesperson Odell Beckham Jr. The NFL partnership is designed to drive relevance with Head & Shoulders’ target audience – males between 18 and 54 – with a target of attracting a million new users during the 2017/18 season. Beckham Jr. was the focus of its ‘Shoulders of Greatness’ weekly social programme where three of the best NFL performance of the week were recognised on the brand’s social channels.
In its partnership with Monumental Sports & Entertainment, Etihad Airways has become the exclusive airline partner for the Washington Capitals (NHL), Washington Wizards (NBA), Washington Mystics (WNBA) and Capital One Arena. As a result, Monumental is building and growing its brand with a global audience and Etihad Airways is further establishing itself as a major global airline in the United States. Through content delivered on multimedia platforms, community initiatives in the US and United Arab Emirates and media coverage of its ‘Hockey is for everyone’ month, the partnership highlighted diversity and inclusion within the sport. The agreement also involves naming rights to the VIP lounge at the Capital One Arena, part of a strategic aim to introduce the Etihad brand to Washington officials and political influencers.
DHL’s partnership with Manchester United has brought together two major global brands, with United claiming over 659 million fans around the world and DHL having a presence in over 220 countries and territories. As United’s official logistics partner since 2010, DHL has showcased its international logistics network by bringing fans, customers and employees closer to the club via a suite of assets including in-match branding, digital and social, tickets and hospitality, access to current and former players, access to the stadium and training group and delivery of the team’s new home kit each season.