Innovation in UK Sports Sponsorship 21st November, 2011

Each year, towards the climax of rugby union’s most demanding league, the Aviva Premiership, London Irish Rugby Club host their two biggest games of the season The St. Patrick’s and End of Season Parties.

Last year with the aid of Slingshot Sponsorship, London Irish implemented a unique strategy with these games applying a three dimensional model that generated new revenue, promoted fan loyalty and increased the reach and exposure of the club.

These events saw the introduction of live music, entertainment, competitions, food stalls, and brand experiences prior to kick off for the sold-out fans creating a festival experience.  This changed the single match day experience to an entire day out for families and supporters within the Madejski Stadium.

Further to creating a more encompassing day for fans, it has also proved to be an innovative way to allow international, national and local brands to get involved with one of the biggest team names in British sport at a fraction of the fees commonly associated with sports sponsorship.  In doing so, the club has been able to create additional value for fans through this new sponsorship revenue stream supporting activity on those specific game days.

Experiential Brand Activations

In 2011 both events integrated a number of brand partnerships for these two games.  From the EA Sports Hub providing visitors with the chance to experience the latest EA Sports video games in a pop-up gaming station, to McCain Foods’ inflatable Track and Field Road Show giving younger fans a chance to be mentored by professional athletes at a range of disciplines from running and jumping to strength and reaction testing.

Benefits for brands included:

  • Being able to physically connect with the London Irish audience of young families
  • Communicating the brand messaging through the integrated marketing campaigns including game programmes, print, online, and social media
  • A platform to promote positive messages of sport and health
  • Brand exposure for local businesses to reach the community through one of the biggest experiential marketing, advertising and hospitality platforms in the area

2012 and Beyond

By offering the opportunity for sports association at single games, the St. Patrick’s and End of Season parties are attracting growing numbers of partners each year and in turn presenting increased diversity in the event content offered. This is inevitably broadening the team’s fan base; providing a sustainable and growing sponsorship platform, whilst simultaneously building upon the traditions of heritage UK rugby club. With St. Patrick’s Day 2012 seeing Aviva Premiership winners Leicester Tigers come to the Madejski stadium, followed by Gloucester for the final game of the season, London Irish’s two key events of the year are set to be the biggest yet and will no doubt provide the parties to match.