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Brands & Sponsorship Sport Business The XX Series | 19.10.18

Pro-Am golf: why the women’s game excels for sponsors

Ricoh's Bart Somsen on 12 years of sponsorship of the Ricoh Women's British Open.

Global imaging and electronics brand Ricoh has been, until this year at least, one of the most visible sponsors in women’s sport.

By James Emmett

The Japanese-headquartered firm have been the title sponsor of one the biggest tournaments on the women’s professional golf calendar – the Ricoh Women’s British Open – for the past 12 years.

But the 2018 edition marked the final year of the company’s involvement with the tournament, with the decision having been made not to renew the title rights.

According to Bart Somsen, Head of Brand at Ricoh Europe, this year’s edition represented a high watermark for the partnership, with record audience engagement figures driven by the exploits of a home-grown winner, young Englishwoman Georgia Hall winning her first Major; a result that was even more pleasing to Somsen and his team given that Hall herself is a personal ambassador for Ricoh.

“We always say you need to finish a party in full swing,” Somsen said in an interview backstage at a Leaders XX Series think tank event earlier this year, “and I think we’ve done that with the Ricoh Women’s British Open.”

Somsen, who is responsible for Ricoh’s European sponsorship and events programme, is adamant that the 12-year partnership has exceeded Ricoh’s initial objectives.

“One of the primary objectives 12 years ago was just to help us build our brand; we went through a number of acquisitions and we had a multi-brand, multi-channel strategy, with an idea to invest our brand identity into a single brand. The platform has greatly helped us to do that in core strategic markets where women’s golf is huge. Another asset of the programme is that we’ve used the Ricoh Women’s British Open very extensively to engage with our global C-Suite audience.”

In this short video, Somsen explains why he believes women’s golf has the capacity to deliver greater engagement and ‘money-can’t-buy’ experiences for brand partners than the men’s game; details the USPs he sees rights holders in women’s sport bringing to the table; and, as he assesses the gaps in Ricoh’s sponsorship portfolio, outlines the best way for rights holders to shape a pitch for the Ricoh sports marketing team.

Bart Somsen was speaking at the Leaders  XX Series Think Tank event in July. The Leaders XX Series is designed to provide a year-round platform to discuss and stimulate growth in women’s sport ─ forging better understanding and connections between sport and business to develop the conversation and accelerate the pace of change. 

Leaders Meet: Innovation

17 January 2019


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