Are business and sport a match made in heaven?


Last week was a big week for Welsh rugby as it was announced that the iconic Millennium Stadium is to be renamed the Principality Stadium.

There has been speculation over the years that brands such as Vodafone were in the running for the stadium’s naming rights, and as always there have been comments about the name change, which I have no doubt will catch on quickly, but in terms of what sort of brand would work best it seems appropriate that a leading, Welsh business has managed to clinch the deal.

Principality Building Society and the Welsh Rugby Union are two of Wales’ most recognisable brands, and Principality has had close ties to the WRU for years, thanks to their sponsorship of the Welsh semi-professional game since 2005.

Branding a stadium isn’t something new, not even here in Wales – SWALEC has become intrinsically linked with Welsh cricket since giving its name to Glamorgan’s ground in 2008 – and the partnership of businesses and sports is longstanding. The theory behind these deals is that the more familiar you are with something, the more it resonates positively with you.

Rugby sponsorship

Here in Wales, rugby sponsorship has the power to catapult brands more firmly into the Welsh consciousness and for Principality, the sponsorship supports its strategy for growing the business outside of Wales.

However, it’s not enough just to put your brand on something. You have to invest time and further resource in building up a culture and collateral around it. The best sport sponsorship campaigns involve huge creativity and engage fans. It’s over ten years now since Brains infamously put ‘Brawn’ on the front of the Welsh Rugby shirt for their Six Nations match in France but it still sticks firmly in everyone’s mind.

While I have focused on multi-million deals, sport sponsorship is not something reserved for big corporations. Though it would be nice to have a stadium named after your business there are other ways to engage on a smaller scale.

We’re pretty well-known at Acorn for the support we have given to community-based sports clubs. It has helped us build our reputation as a community-centred business that supports its local community. This has included a number of youth sports clubs, individuals and of course our long-running association with Newport County, which lasted some 14 years.

Another great example was our sponsorship of the Tonga rugby team when they played against Wales. The campaign was well received and as well as enjoying the boost in profile, we also had a great bit of fun with it.

I have always been a big believer in building strong ties between business and sport and think that this new deal is great news. Those involved in completing the sponsorship should be congratulated and I am looking forward to my first visit to the Principality Stadium in the New Year.

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