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Sporting the brand

Douglas Fraser | 12:35 UK time, Saturday, 12 March 2011

When Scotland's rugby team runs out at Twickenham this weekend, they'll be running out onto a giant corporate logo as much as a sports pitch.

The RBS brand not only rubs off on the players. It's also intended to rub off on the target market.

It's with that in mind that we've been looking at the relationship between sport and business. It's usually known as sponsorship, but John Scott, chief executive of Glasgow's Commonwealth Games team, says it's more of a partnership.

The appeal is partly because sport is a giant billboard for brands.

To illustrate that, consider that CR Smith gained almost certainly the highest profile of any glazing and conservatory business in Scotland through shirt sponsorship of Rangers and Celtic. That still goes on, but its name was last on Old Firm shirts from 1984-87.

Sponsorship/partnership money also eases open the door for business people - and crucially, their clients - to get access at least to the aura around their sporting heroes. And it can be used by some companies with internal messages to staff.

Multi-sport frenzy

This is a huge market. For next year's London Olympics, £700m has already been pledged in sponsorship fund-raising, with a target of £750m.

Among the big names is Lloyds Banking Group, reputed to spending more than £50m.

Will that leave a sponsorship fatigue afflicting Glasgow for 2014?

Not so, says John Scott. He says it will encourage potential sponsors by showing how much a two-week event can deliver.

And he's got a lot more flexibility than the Olympics, for instance in being able to bring supermarkets on board (barred from Olympic sponsorship because the International Olympic Committee has already done its deals in that area) and in linking brands to particular sports.

Recent experience isn't so great with the Commonwealth Games.

Delhi had a bad experience, partly through an undeveloped sports sponsorship market, but also because such money as there is can be seen pouring into cricket's Indian Premier League - showing that some sponsors prefer to keep their brand profile up over a long sports season rather than two weeks of multi-sport frenzy.

You can hear more about that on Business Scotland, this Sunday just past ten on BBC Radio Scotland, including an interview with John Scott.

Cleared desk

The programme also features an interview with David Nish, on his first year in charge of Standard Life.

In shaking up the traditional Edinburgh institution, he's taken a wrecking ball through the company's executive suite, and even cleared his own desk - at least of a computer.

Listen in, just past ten on Sunday, or hear it again by iplayer or podcast.


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