“Disabled sports sponsorship isn’t so saturated, allowing more rein to utilise partnerships”
The latest installment of our “Open Goal” series with leading brands sees caytoo speak to the investment company who, since their first sports activation in 1999, have considerably broadened sponsorship activity from within Scotland to the global stage.
Spring talks about how Aberdeen Standard Investments (ASI) has expanded their targeting of sport since 2017 – after Aberdeen Asset Management merged with Standard Life Investments – particularly, the partnership with the 2018 Wimbledon wheelchair doubles champion, Gordon Reid.
caytoo: What is the main purpose of your role at ASI?
Robin: Sponsorship plays a key role in our overall marketing strategy and it is my role, as sponsorship communications manager, to promote our sponsorships and association which each property to the full extent – both internally and externally.
caytoo: What is ASI’s overall approach to sports sponsorship?
Robin: Sport sponsorship is a great vehicle, a powerful marketing tool. ASI sees it as a brand-building tool. We can drive excitement among customers around the brand using sport. It allows us to reach new geographies and target audiences in hard to reach places. It enables us to talk about new products as well as drive interest to our website etc.
“Sport allows us to reach new geographies
and target audiences in hard to reach places”
caytoo: What types of sports/marketing activity has ASI been involved with?
Robin: Predominantly golf, tennis, rugby, sailing and skiing as we feel these properties resonate best with our target audience. This has been a transitional year for us. Our history from the heritage Aberdeen Asset Management side started in 1999 with sponsorship of golf’s Open Champion Paul Lawrie, who we still sponsor now. Since then it has grown to support all levels of Scottish golf, a sport that resonates with our target audience – both male and female – but across other sports such as rugby and tennis that are also a good fit.
“We don’t just see sponsorships as a brand-badging tool,
we get actively involved to enhance the sponsorship properties”
Although important, we don’t see sponsorships as just a brand-badging tool, we like to actively get involved and grow and enhance the sponsorship properties we’re involved in. We’re a worldwide partner of the 2018 Ryder Cup which means we can promote our associations with that event in both America and across Europe. We’ve been involved with it for the last three tournaments, so six years in total.
caytoo: What was the key objective of using disability sports as a vehicle?
Robin: We are partnering with Gordon Reid the athlete and not looking at it solely from a disability sports angle. However, disability sport is on the rise and with the growth of the Paralympic Games many athletes are now household names. London 2012 was a game-changer for Paralympic sport in this country. Disabled athletes train just as hard as able-bodied athletes and the stars within disabled sports can have a powerful impact on the public and can shift perceptions of disability in society.
“Disabled sports stars can have a powerful impact
on the public and shift perceptions of disability in society”
Disabled sports also aren’t as saturated with sponsors so it gives us more rein to make the most of the partnership and a larger share of voice. Internally, as a company, we seek to create an accessible, inclusive environment which represents our differences and attracts a workforce capable of responding to the diverse needs of our clients. Our marketing and sponsorship activity is just one element of this.
caytoo: How did the partnership with Gordon come about?
Robin: The team had been watching Gordon from an early age and after his fantastic 2016 season where he won two Grand Slam singles titles, along with Paralympic Gold, we started having conversations with his team and Gordon himself. He was a perfect fit for our brand and his character represents our values so it was a good match. We have logos on both of Gordon’s sleeves and we’ve done lots of filming with him, made lots of videos introducing him as an athlete, which we promote before events.
caytoo: How do you help Gordon and how does he help ASI?
Robin: Our sponsorship fee will help Gordon with the expenses he faces as part of being a world-class athlete playing around the globe. It will ensure he has the correct kit and training methods available to him so he can reach the peak of his game…and keep him there. Gordon helps raise awareness of our brand and our value around the world during his yearly schedule.
caytoo: How successful has the partnership been and how are you measuring the ROI?
Robin: We are still in the first year of our partnership and the relationship is going from strength to strength. Gordon has been in fine form with a handful of victories under his belt including the Wimbledon doubles title. We use an external company to measure the exposure we receive as part of our partnership, including audience and viewing figures, advertising equivalent value, engagement with digital content as well as brand perception amongst sports fans within our target markets.
We also measure success on how involved our colleagues are within the sponsorships so internal engagement is very important. We now have a large number of staff in the UK and it’s important they feel part of our sponsorships and also have their say about how we do things. We help them engage with Gordon through meet and greets, Q+A’s and a tennis clinic. Gordon’s most recent Q&A with staff was in our New York office as part of his US Open appearance.
“We measure the exposure we receive, advertising equivalent value,
engagement with digital content and brand perception”
We’re analysing our ROI with Nielsen to measure the advertising value of media and exposure we get through sponsoring Gordon.
That will come through at the end of the year. But we’re sure it will be positive. He’s been doing great on tour – won out in Asia, at Japan and Korea. He also won the Wimbledon doubles with Alfie Hewett. But we know it’s not the same as being a title sponsor of an event such as we are at the Scottish Open or Women’s Scottish Open – where we’ve got over 180 logos out on the course and its broadcast around the world on NBC and Sky Sports. It’s not going to be of that sort of value.
We’re also doing analysis of our key markets, with a sample of 1,000 people from each market across all our sponsorships. Have they heard of Gordon Reid? How do they consume their media? Where do they consume media? It’ll hopefully provide some interesting results we can then use to determine how we activate our sponsorship with Gordon.
caytoo: What advice would you give athletes to attract and work with sponsors?
Robin: We judge each sponsorship request by its own merit. If an athlete is being the best they can be and working hard then the results will surely come, as will the sponsorship. It’s important for an athlete to have their own character so they stand out amongst a crowd. Those big on social media are obviously attractive to sponsors but that shouldn’t be at the detriment of their performance. To achieve the perfect balance would be ideal.
“It’s important for an athlete to have their
own character so they stand out amongst a crowd”
As a Scottish company, we’ve traditionally sponsored Scottish sports and sport stars. But if non-Scottish athletes are doing well, are dedicated and have the potential to go far then we’ll certainly look at the value we can get out of a partnership with them – be it social media, TV appearances, opportunities to engage with the individuals etc. It’s good to look at their background, their goals and aspirations in their chosen sport and individuality makes them stand out from the crowd.
caytoo: What rights holders are particularly good at marketing themselves and why?
Robin: It’s always great to see what the NFL, NBA, Premier League and F1 are doing. ASI has a big relationship with golf, particularly the European Tour who have been working hard to reinvigorate how golf is seen amongst younger and new fans which seems to be working well.
Younger audiences aren’t our target market at the moment but that isn’t to say they won’t be in 15-20 year’s time. We support golf from amateur to playing ambassadors right up to big event sponsorship on the European Tour. So, it’s important that we are seen supporting golf at all levels. Golf is often perceived to be an old man’s sport but we know this isn’t the case. We see golf as a vehicle to promote our brand.
“User-generated content is becoming much more
important as brands treat fans not only as customers
but content creators”
caytoo: How might sports sponsorship and partnerships between brands and rights holders change going forward?
Robin: Media consumption continues to change and sponsors like Red Bull are taking sponsorship to another level, owning their own content and creating their own events. User-generated content is becoming much more important as brands treat fans not only as customers but content creators. Linear TV numbers are still important, but it’s just as important to engage on other platforms whilst fragmentation across channels and devices becomes wider and wider.
If you’re an athlete interested in how caytoo can help you better connect with brands such as Aberdeen Standard Investments, register here.