Investec’s sponsorship of women’s hockey spans three levels – the national team, the Hockey League and Quicksticks, a programme introducing hockey to primary schools. As part of Investec’s sponsorship a number of key events take place each year, including the Investec Women’s Hockey League Finals, the Investec London Cup (a tournament created by Investec) and other internationals. The sponsorship is a five year agreement signed in 2011.
While tournaments showcase the highest level of talent in women’s hockey, Investec also use competitions to build awareness of the sport and educate young people about the game. Since 2011 there has been a 25% increase in the number of women in clubs, 55% increase in under 16s in clubs and equal club participation between men and women.
The sponsorship is communicated across all Investec channels including social media. This serves multiple purposes of growing the profiles of the players as well as communicating Investec’s association with the sport. The majority of hockey tournaments are not televised; it is through Investec channels that weekly and national results are communicated.
Investec also works closely with England Hockey to create and facilitate media opportunities for the team and individual players in national, regional and consumer titles. This serves a dual purpose – growing the profiles of the players and their roles as sportswomen, as well as promoting the sport of hockey more widely than the sports pages.[divider]
In February 2014 the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) made the ground-breaking decision to significantly invest in the women’s game by awarding 18 England women’s cricketers full-time professional contracts for the first time in the history of English cricket. This move was followed in July 2014 by the first standalone commercial sponsorship deal for the team with Kia Motors (UK) Ltd, a six-figure sum representing the first ever standalone commercial deal in international women’s cricket.
Kia’s partnership with the ECB is a pioneering development for women’s sport and sponsorship, supporting the players’ new found professional status and further enhancing their profile. Kia’s investment has served as a ‘proof of concept’ of the commercial credibility and viability of the women’s game, internally at ECB, among the game’s stakeholders and, most importantly, in the wider sponsorship industry.
Kia has shown creativity and innovation in their approach to sponsorship. They invested in significant match day activation and surrounding marketing support and plan to do even more around the 2015 Women’s Ashes Series.
At the end of 2014 the ECB and Sky Sports made a further ground-breaking announcement that every ball of the Women’s Ashes Series in 2015 will be broadcast live, including the Kia Women’s Test Match – the first time a women’s Test match has ever been televised.
Since the Kia announcement, in-bound interest in sponsoring England women and grassroots women’s cricket initiatives has grown significantly.
Sporting history will be made on Saturday April 11, 2015, when The Newton Women’s Boat Race between the open weight women’s boat clubs of the universities of Oxford and Cambridge is rowed on the same day and over the same course as their male counterparts for the first time.
The Women’s Boat Race has existed since 1927 but has always been rowed in a different location to the men’s and with little to no funding or awareness. Newton Investment Management worked with the men’s and women’s Clubs, the Boat Race Company Limited, the universities and various government and non-governmental associations and sporting bodies over five years to bring about this change.
This sponsorship is seen as a game changer for women’s sport as it brings parity to a Great British sporting event with sponsorship that ensures that the women’s and men’s clubs have equal funding and equal opportunity.
The sponsorship also secured equal television rights (live coverage in full on BBC1). This visibility is important not only for the example it sets to society at large by demonstrating that the women’s race deserves equal rights to the men’s, but also because it sets an example to other commercial partners, demonstrating that women’s sport, if given a chance, can deliver great reach and brand visibility for partners and is worth investing in.[divider]