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SBD Global/June 19, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

HSBC, Adidas, Land Rover Among Returning Sponsors For British & Irish Lions Tour

Sponsors foot most of the bills for British & Irish Lions Tour.

The British & Irish Lions Tour of Hong Kong and Australia is expected to generate a £4M ($6.2M) profit "to be shared by the four home rugby football unions," according to Anuj Gangahar of the FINANCIAL TIMES. With the tour costing about £14M ($21M), "it is no surprise a range of sponsorship deals have been signed." The Lions "have signed deals with, among others," HSBC bank, adidas, wine producer FirstCape Wines, carmaker Land Rover and software company Microsoft. Suppliers to the tour include "shirtmaker Thomas Pink and Maximuscle, the sports nutrition supplier." From a sponsorship point of view, "the Lions tour differs from other rugby tournaments, and indeed most sporting events," as 65-70% of revenue comes from sponsorship, rather than ticket sales and TV rights. Lions Sales & Marketing Dir Charlie McEwen said, "Sponsors are critical to the livelihood of the Lions. Without them, the tour simply doesn't happen." Yet while the Lions brand is undoubtedly appealing for sponsors, "by its very nature the tour has a limited shelf life." McEwen said the tour can be likened to "a star that shines very brightly for a very short period of time." The tour itself lasts just six weeks, "which presents challenges" for tour organizers and sponsors. The latter need to be convinced that their financial commitment "will yield results for their brand beyond the tour dates." But the strategy "appears to be working." Most of the leading sponsors, including HSBC, adidas and Land Rover, "are supporting the tour for at least the second time." For Australian airline Qantas, which sponsors the Wallabies, "the benefits from supporting the Lions tour are manifest." A Qantas spokesperson said, "The tour is followed by tens of thousands of fans and brings significant economic and tourism benefits for the host nation" (FT, 6/17).

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