Best Marketing Communications Strategy 2021 – sponsored by NZME

With flagging sponsorship attribution to the much-loved All Blacks, ASB needed a comms strategy that would not only improve its market position, but that of the many businesses the bank supports. So, what does it do? Give away the National rugby team of course! 

Show of support

The challenge

ASB has struggled for sponsorship attribution from within the banking industry. During the bank’s seven-year tenure with the All Blacks, its major competitors’ attribution has often outranked ASB. Realising that a new sponsorship approach was needed, ASB needed to find a unique on-brand activation that would sit well within the strict marketing rules outlined by NZ Rugby for the All Blacks. And, to compound issues, Covid-19 had just arrived on New Zealand shores. However, the bank saw this as an opportunity to not only help but increase their sponsorship attribution of the All Blacks.

When Covid-19 happened, the bank quickly realised that the health crisis was becoming a financial one with many small businesses becoming overwhelmed by the economy coming to an almost halt. Outside of providing financial support through their role as a bank, ASB also saw its responsibility was to challenge itself to genuinely support its customers, acting in their interests with purpose and integrity.

With every bank saying, “We’re here to help”, ASB wanted to demonstrate their support in a more tangible way.

So, the bank looked ahead of the immediate crisis, beyond financial help, and to the challenge of playing an outside role in actively kickstarting the New Zealand economy through the support it could give to its customers. This meant helping businesses to rebound as quickly as possible.

The response

To do this, it was clear that ASB’s role was as the wingman. What the bank needed to do was to give its customers the airtime, quite literally as it turned out, and turn its well-tuned marketing machine into something that was equally effective for its SME customers.

The real challenge would be scale – this needed to be something that would genuinely shine the spotlight on its customers and so couldn’t be tokenistic. But with New Zealand closed off from the world and sports cancelled, ASB’s biggest sponsorship asset – the All Blacks – was sitting idle.

But in adversity, ASB saw opportunity, and activated the All Blacks in a way only ASB could, flipping the script. Fans couldn’t support the All Blacks on the field, so ASB got the All Blacks to support their fans on-camera.Literally giving the All Blacks and their marketing power away to businesses in need with ‘Borrow the All Blacks’.

The result

ASB’s Brand Love recorded its highest ever brand love score in 12 years. The bank more than doubled its sponsorship awareness of the All Blacks rising from 15 to 42 – a 180 percent increase. Pretty impressive when the bank spent the whole year promoting small businesses rather than itself.  

Category: Best Marketing Communications Strategy & Best Use of Sponsorship

Company: ASB

Marketing Initiative: Borrow The All Blacks + Eden Park

Marketing Partners: Dentsu Creative, Dentstu Media, Anthem PR, TRA, Aquire Online, Search Republic

Judges’ Comments: “ASB has taken a property that could have been benched and attached it to a socially relevant cause. The idea that was captured was executed perfectly. We could see demonstration of the full marketing VC from idea to execution to exceptional results across a range of metrics. A relevant sponsorship activation that had strong cut through. Great to see the big guys lending a hand to the SMEs.”

Finalists: (Best Marketing Communications Strategy) Ryman Healthcare, Electric Kiwi, The Warehouse Group, J. H. Whittaker & Sons, Foodstuffs New Zealand, Every Kiwi Vote Counts, Tourism Holdings Limited, Tourism New Zealand, Woolworths New Zealand, Fire and Emergency New Zealand, Earthwise Group. (Best Use of Sponsorship) 2degrees, Skinny & NZME, Spark NZ, Genesis, The Warehouse Group, Toyota New Zealand, McDonald’s New Zealand, Dilmah New Zealand

This article was first published in the 2021 December/January issue of NZ Marketing magazine. You can subscribe to the magazine, here. Or read the other winner stories, here.

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