Financial winners and losers from the Rugby World Cup

Who are the financial winners and losers from the 2015 Rugby World Cup?

The Sport Review staff
By The Sport Review staff
England head coach Stuart Lancaster Photo: The Sport Review

The Rugby World Cup 2015 has finished and for bitterly disappointed England fans, the shame of their team’s early exit may be softened by the expected £1bn revenue the tournament is expected to add to the economy. This includes £869million from around 466,000 visitors, the highest number ever.

Putting on a global sporting tournament is a massive undertaking that could not happen without sponsorship from the corporate sector, who pour funding into every aspect of the event. But for the sponsors themselves, being able to place their brand squarely in front of spectators as English team partners 02 have is pure marketing gold. It might seem churlish to mention it, but the mobile network’s multi-channel ‘Make them Giants’ campaign could be seen as a greater success than the team with which it was so closely identified.

Sponsoring a major sporting event is not just about getting your logo on the tickets, although that’s important. In today’s business world, companies need to show their involvement in, and commitment to, the communities they work in. Getting your company’s name associated with a cause like a big international sporting event is a great way of reinforcing your corporate values. It is also, obviously, a great way to get coverage. Shirt sponsorship gives brands access to TV and newspaper coverage far in excess of anything even the biggest advertising budget could buy.

Sport sponsorship works best when the fans who follow the sport fall into the target market the company works in. The synergy between rugby and beer is obvious, with fans at the match and watching at home often enjoying a few beers at the same time. Less obvious, but carefully thought out and targeted, is the link between sporting events and companies such as banks and insurers, who will have scrutinised the demographics of the sport’s followers before deciding that they are the sort of people who might become customers.

Having decided to get on board with a big sporting event, companies will be able to use the association in all kinds of marketing and advertising aimed at increasing recognition for their brand. It can also be a powerful tool in employee engagement, harnessing the collective ‘feel-good’ emotions around the event to bring teams closer together, encourage new recruits and a sense of pride in the company.

The biggest winner from the Rugby World Cup, experts in shares suggest, may be the tournament partner Heineken, already on course for 12% Earnings per Share (EPS) growth in 2015. The official broadcaster, ITV, is also likely to do well, despite England’s early departure (which will have turned less die-hard fans off watching the games), with other ‘home nations’ reaching the later stages.

Corporate sponsorship can make a massive difference to a sporting event – it’s no coincidence that stadiums around the world carry the names of major brands like O2 and Aviva, without whose support building could not take place. A successful tournament can also be a huge boon to a major company fighting for market share and brand recognition.

While the ‘marriage made in heaven’ of a domestic brand and a host country bringing home the trophy won’t be happening in the UK this year, there will be winners both in the pitch and in the boardroom. It won’t be long now before we know who they are.


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