2016 Deal Review - A Year In Sponsorship

2016 was a busy year for the UK sponsorship sector with several deals being announced almost as soon as the industry was back at work after New Year. In this end of year review, we look at some of the brands that entered the sponsorship sector or renewed existing partnerships across the year.


With Prudential having renewed its sponsorship of cycling event RideLondon at the end of 2015, Evans Cycles got the new sponsorship year on the move by signing up as the event’s official clothing and retail partner. This news followed the launch of Evans’ four year partnership with British Cycling’s Go-Ride programme – designed to deliver over two million opportunities for young people to get into cycling by 2020. Underlining the continued support for cycling in the UK, RideLondon was held in July 2016, attracting 100,000 people.

Another big statement of intent at the start of the year was Standard Life Investment’s announcement that it is to be a principal partner of the The British & Irish Lions 2017 tour to New Zealand – replacing HSBC. That deal comes on top of SLI’s existing partnership with golf’s Ryder Cup. SLI CEO Keith Skeoch commented: “I believe that teams which work together succeed together.  For me, the Lions personify this. Being part of their tour to New Zealand in 2017, the first in 12 years, presents us with an opportunity to raise awareness of our business globally and inspire both our people and our clients.”

In terms of innovations, BNY Mellon and Newton Investment Management made headlines when they donated their title sponsorship of the annual Oxford and Cambridge Universities to Cancer Research UK (CRUK), the official charity partner.

BNY Mellon and Newton Investment Management worked with Cancer Research UK to support its fundraising activities in the build up to The Boat Races. Explaining this approach, Curtis Arledge, Vice Chairman of BNY Mellon and CEO of Investment Management, commented: “We have the opportunity to be a sponsorship partner that genuinely changes people’s lives for the better through sport. Just as the four crews from Oxford and Cambridge will pull together to battle for glory on the water, BNY Mellon, Newton Investment Management and Cancer Research UK are pulling together to fight cancer.”


February kicked off with the news that the ECB had renewed its partnership with Yorkshire Tea as the ‘Official Brew of England Cricket’ for a further three years. The agreement, an extension of a previous three-year deal, saw Yorkshire Tea increase its investment and build on its commitment to cricket. Kevin Sinfield, Head of Brand Marketing at Taylors of Harrogate, commented: “Coming from a county with such a strong cricketing heritage, we’ve always felt a close connection to the game, down to the illustration of a village game on our box.”

A busy month also saw the ECB sign up Greene King IPA as the Official Beer of England cricket in a new five-year sponsorship deal. The deal included a range of commercial rights including access to England players for promotional appearances, in-ground advertising and opportunities to display the ECB brand on retail product. Chris Houlton, managing director of Greene King brewing and brands, said: “As we look to introduce our iconic IPA to a broader range of drinkers, we expect the increased exposure this deal will bring for our flagship ale, and our full beer portfolio, to deliver benefits across the business.” As well as becoming the Official Beer of England Cricket, Greene King also secured a partnership with Surrey County Cricket Club (SCCC) to become the main beer supplier for all domestic and international matches at the Kia Oval in a three-year agreement that includes investment in new bar facilities.

On the media sponsorship front MEC UK brokered a partnership between Colgate and Britain’s Next Top Model. The deal included sponsorship, product placement, social and digital. The campaign was devised by MEC Access to create an integrated campaign that would build awareness of Colgate’s Expert White Toothbrush Plus Whitening Pen among 25-44 year-old females. Colgate was incorporated into the editorial of the new series and also created exclusive content to promote the show and the partnership, across social and digital. Ana Sanchez, Marketing Director at Colgate, called it “a great process, working closely with Lifetime and show presenter Abbey Clancy on a fully integrated solution that is set to bring the product to life from screen through to point of purchase.”

A busy February ended with Specsavers signing up as title sponsor of Cricket’s County Championships (another ECB deal) and Investec signing a five-year extension partnership with New Zealand Rugby. “Our developed relationship and history with NZR has proved invaluable to our brand so it was a natural and easy decision to extend this sponsorship. We couldn’t have picked a better partner to work with to ensure that Investec is positioned as enablers of international rugby,” said Janet Larsen, head of Group Marketing, Investec South Africa.


March saw the latest edition of the UK Sponsorship Awards take place at the London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square and also saw another ECB cricket deal – this time with Foster’s Lager. David Forde, Foster’s UK Managing Director, said: “It’s been a decade since we last sponsored the sport in the UK and what a time to start again. England is playing a brand of cricket that has excited the public in all three forms of the game. Cricket has one of the widest fan bases of any sport and Foster’s is one of the best-selling lagers in the country – it’s a winning combination.”

Still in March, another landmark ECB deal saw car brand Kia renew its support for women’s cricket. Under the terms of the deal, the new Women’s Cricket Super League was named the Kia Super League. Commenting on the partnership, Paul Philpott, President and CEO of Kia Motors (UK), said: “Kia has been supporting cricket in England on many levels since 2011, from grassroots through to the national women’s team.  Being able to support the game at a domestic level through the Kia Super League helps to ensure the future of the women’s game and provide opportunities for up and coming players.” Later in 2016, Bang & Olufsen also partnered the Kia Super League.

At the end of March, a report from Repucom stated that the amount of money spent on shirt sponsorship among Europe’s top six football leagues grew by 13% year on year. The report which takes into account the investments made into shirt sponsorship of the English Premier League, the German Bundesliga, Spain’s Primera División, France’s Ligue 1, the Italian Serie A, and the Netherlands’ Eredivisie, showed the industry had grown from €736m in 2014/15 to €830m in 2015/16. The biggest surge came from the Premier League which saw a 35% growth in front of shirt revenues on last year’s figures, rising from €244m to €330m. The Premier League now accounts for just under 40% of the total figure.


April saw the Commonwealth Games’ Team England renew its official partnership with Kukri to supply competition and delegation sportswear. The partnership was announced with exactly two years to go until the start of the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, where Team England is hoping to achieve similar success to Glasgow 2014. Glasgow 2014 was the most successful ever for Team England, with a total of 174 medals. Andrew Ronnie, Group Executive Chairman, Kukri said: “Athletes take great pride in representing their country, and we are delighted to be making a range of sportswear which allows them to perform to their ultimate best. Our continued partnership with Team England clearly demonstrates our position as the market leader in bespoke sportswear.”

April also saw the Rugby Football Union join forces with Mitsubishi Motors, which became official partner of England Rugby from the start of the 2016/17 season. Under the terms of the deal, the Mitsubishi logo appears on the front of the England Under 18 and U20 shirts and also sponsored the Exeter leg of the European Grand Prix Sevens Series at Sandy Park in July this year. Lance Bradley, managing director at Mitsubishi Motors UK, said: “The ethos and values of the game align perfectly with our own and the partnership announcement comes as a natural development of the work we are doing, and have already done to support leading rugby clubs and players.”

With an eye on the summer sporting calendar, April also saw the Lawn Tennis Association partner with Rodda’s, producer of Cornish clotted cream. Rodda’s presence at various LTA tournaments included sampling, retail space and inclusion in hospitality programmes. Rodda’s also agreed to provide support to the LTA’s mission to get more people playing tennis more often. Rodda’s Managing Director, Nicholas Rodda, said: “Cornish Clotted Cream has always been synonymous with tennis and this partnership strengthens the association.”


June saw EPL team Arsenal FC renew its relationship with online bookmaker Betfair ahead of the 2016/17 season. The new deal, which runs for three years, sees Betfair remain as the club’s official betting partner in the UK, Europe, South and Central America. The agreement increases Betfair branding at all domestic fixtures at the club’s Emirates Stadium, and the company will also benefit from more match days hospitality.

There was also more news on the tennis front, with the LTA forging a new partnership with two General Mills brands, Häagen-Dazs and Nature Valley cereal bars. Häagen-Dazs is now the official ice cream of UK tennis, while Nature Valley is its official snack bar. The two-year partnership includes on-pack promotions and an advertising presence at events such as the Aegon Championships, played at the Queen’s Club, London.

Still in June, bottled water brand Strathmore teamed up with British Athletics. Under the terms of the partnership, Strathmore supplied nearly 40,000 bottles of water to athletes, staff and hospitality at the Müller Anniversary Games in London at the end of July as well as the British Championships. Adrian Troy, Head of Marketing at A. G. Barr, said: “Our sponsorship programme not only helps support the country’s sporting heroes achieve their goals but encourages the development of our stars of the future - from those taking part in events for fun to those who are just inspired to Do More in their daily lives.” Also in June, British Athletics signed Muller as a partner.

Another deal saw Datto, specialists in data protection for businesses, sign up as title sponsor of the 2016 Ping! Festival. Explaining why, Andrew Stuart, Managing Director of Datto EMEA, said: “Table Tennis is a wonderfully accessible sport and the Ping! Festival allows us to engage with business owners across the UK.  As a provider of back up, recovery and business continuity solutions, we felt it important to align with a sport with the same values – speed, ambition and available to all.”


Into July, RFU team Wasps went into partnership with commercial fitness brand Matrix as its Official Gym Equipment Supplier. Under the deal, Matrix supplies a range of advanced technological fitness equipment, to be utilised for strength and conditioning and injury rehabilitation and prevention. Gemma Bonnett, Director of Strategic Marketing EMEA for Matrix, said: “To be associated with Wasps, not only as a professional rugby team but as a true corporate social responsibility organisation, fits naturally with our other top sporting teams and strategy.”

July saw Formula 1 motor racing pull off a couple of interesting deals. In the first, NTT Communications, the ICT solutions and international communications business within the NTT Group, became Technology Partner to British F1 team McLaren-Honda under a multi-year agreement negotiated by JMI, part of CSM Sport & Entertainment. Tetsuya Shoji, President and CEO, NTT Communications said: “I am thrilled that NTTC is now a Technology Partner for McLaren-Honda, a symbol of innovation for motorsport fans. With innovation a part of the DNA of both companies, this partnership will help McLaren-Honda transform how it manages the data generated during F1 races and transcend established boundaries in motorsports racing.”

In the second, Ferrari and the Luxottica Group signed a sponsorship agreement that saw the Ray-Ban brand appear on SF16-H F1 cars, starting from British Grand Prix. Sergio Marchionne, Chairman and CEO of Ferrari, said: “Adding another prestigious brand like Ray-Ban to our livery is very gratifying for Scuderia Ferrari. This new agreement strengthens the ties between Ferrari and Luxottica, two major Italian companies that are both continuously striving for excellence.”

In the same month, there was a boost for cycling’s Tour Of Britain as caffeine shampoo Alpecin came on board as Official Partner. This followed on from Alpecin’s existing sponsorship of German professional cycling team Giant Alpecin: “As an internationally active manufacturer of body care products, we can particularly enhance the global brand image of our Alpecin Caffeine Shampoo in the world of professional cycling,” explained company spokesperson Marcel Klöpping.

July also saw Paralympics GB unveil its formal wear, created by online retailer ASOS – following a deal agreed in April. ASOS designs were worn by over 250 athletes, plus support staff, during formal team appearances and at the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

As July came to an end, Land Rover became title sponsor of a new Pony Club competition aimed at grassroots riders. BP also hit the headlines by unveiled a five year partnership with four of the UK’s major cultural institutions - the British Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, the Royal Opera House and the Royal Shakespeare Company. Wrapping up a busy month, the ECB announced an extension of its partnership with NatWest – meaning the two will have been working together for 40 years by the end of the current contractual term. Commenting on the partnership, David Wheldon, Chief Marketing Officer at NatWest, said: “Ever since we first established the NatWest Trophy in conjunction with the ECB in 1980, cricket has been ingrained in the DNA of NatWest and I am delighted that we will be re-invigorating this partnership by becoming the ECB’s first ever Principal Partner. There’s an immense amount to be excited about in cricket, and this sponsorship means NatWest can support a sport that means so much to our customers and businesses. Through this partnership we can help local communities and celebrate success at all levels of the game.”


August’s big news was that Land Rover agreed to sponsor Premiership Rugby for a further four years, building on a relationship that dates back to 2004. Under the new contract, Land Rover supports the Premiership Rugby Cup and the national series of grassroots rugby festivals for U11 and U12 teams. Jeremy Hicks, Managing Director, Jaguar Land Rover UK, said: “Land Rover’s heritage in rugby is a very proud one. Supporting Premiership Rugby for over a decade is testament to the shared values between Land Rover and rugby but also highlights the value Land Rover places on encouraging the development of the game. The sentiment behind Land Rover’s ‘We Deal In Real’ campaign remains true, with the support of grassroots rugby a vital aspect of Land Rover’s partnership with Premiership Rugby. Engaging nearly 68,000 youngsters with the sport through the Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup, since its inception, has given the next generation of rugby stars the platform needed to develop their skills and grow the game.”

August also supplied further evidence of football’s close links with gambling when William Hill signed a three-year deal with Chelsea to become the Premier League club's new official betting partner. The Chelsea partnership was the third football deal William Hill signed this week after also agreeing betting partnerships with Everton and Tottenham Hotspur. Around the same time, Arsenal signed up 12BET as Asian betting partner. 


Come September, it was consulting firm EY’s turn to hit the headlines following its partnership deal with the British & Irish Lions for the 2017 Tour to New Zealand. SAP also made news when it signed as Official Technology Sponsor of the Event Rider Masters series, sanctioned by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI). ERM Director Christopher Stone said: “Co-innovating with SAP, we will work towards bringing this magnificent sport much closer to our fans onsite and around the world. We will achieve this by providing informed data and analyses, innovative camera techniques and graphics, and much more sophisticated commentary and insights.”

Still in Autumn, there was a nice community component to the Goldman Sachs-sponsored Pablo Picasso Exhibition at National Portrait Gallery. Prior to the event’s official opening, pupils from six schools across London were given an exclusive free preview to the exhibition. The Preview gave teachers and pupils the opportunity to explore the exhibition, and respond to themes through facilitated discussions and activities.

Liz Smith, Director of Participation and Learning, National Portrait Gallery, London, said: “The generous support by Goldman Sachs of the Learning programme has enabled the Gallery to develop a range of 'experimental firsts' in its activities for schools, families and young people. We are incredibly grateful to Goldman Sachs for the confidence they have shown in the development of this programme. Without their support the realisation of our ambition would not have been possible.” In addition to supporting the learning programme, Goldman Sachs enabled the Gallery to introduce a special ticket offer, whereby every Friday morning throughout the run of Picasso Portraits, the first 100 tickets were just £5.


In October, Hardy’s Wine renewed its partnership with England Cricket until 2019. However the big story of the month was the creation of TeamUp, a joint initiative between The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), England Hockey and England Netball to maximise the legacy of three home World Cups and build a fan base for women’s team sports. In addition to promoting the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup, the Women’s Hockey World Cup and the Netball World Cup, the TeamUp initiative has an ambitious target to ensure that all 7 to 13 year-old girls across the country have the opportunity to experience the benefits of team sport, and includes rewards for schools and teachers.

October also saw Arsenal FC link up with solar power experts Octopus Energy while O2 extended its partnership with England Rugby to 2021 (the two became partners in 1995). Another breakthrough deal in the same month saw Müller named as the first National Partner of the World Para Athletics Championships and National Supplier of the IAAF World Championships London 2017 (London Stadium next summer).

Commenting on the new partnership Michael Inpong, Chief Marketing Officer at Müller, said: “Our commitment to British sport and sports in Britain has been very successful for Müller. Our consumers, employees, partners have given us excellent feedback on this strategy. Therefore, it was natural for us to get involved with the World Para Athletics Championships and the IAAF World Championships – the biggest sport event in the UK since London 2012 and world’s biggest sport event in 2017.”

As the year hurtled towards its conclusion, there was still time for Gillette to sign up as Official Sponsor for the British & Irish Lions Tour to New Zealand in 2017 and for Inmarsat to renew its association with the Volvo Ocean Race. And in December, drinks brand Crabbie’s was unveiled as sponsor of the Varsity Match between Oxford and Cambridge at Twickenham Stadium. Brother UK also announced an extension of its successful 2016 partnership with cycling’s Tour Of Britain.

Finally, insurer Allianz provides a boost for The British Paralympic Association (BPA) when it renewed its partnership with the organisation through until 2020, including both the PyeongChang 2018 and Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

Allianz UK first partnered with the BPA in January 2016 and worked with Channel 4 during its coverage of Rio 2016. Now it will support the BPA with its preparations for Pyeongchang and Tokyo, ensuring that the most competitive ParalympicsGB team is ready to compete on the biggest stage in disability sport. Jon Dye, chief executive, Allianz Insurance said: “With Paralympics GB’s tremendous performance at Rio 2016, the success of our brand building programme and Allianz’s continued support at international level, it was an easy decision to continue our support. The 2016 partnership was incredibly popular with colleagues and we are very proud to continue the association.”

View the 2019 Winners

Campaign of the Week

Follow us on Twitter