A marriage made in Norfolk brand heaven was re-affirmed today as finance giants Aviva signed a new, four-year sponsorship deal with Norwich City Football Club.
“This is a great day for the football club,” said a delighted chief executive David McNally, as Aviva confirmed their commitment to all things Canary through until 2016. By when the two parties will have been wed for eight years – a lifetime by football standards given the manner in which most clubs change their sponsors with every passing season.
“We’ve been with them for four years and they have backed this football club through some difficult days,” said McNally, as the club used today’s announcement to launch the new-look 2012-2013 home kit as well as to set in motion a ‘Global Canaries’ venture to build on the club’s ever-growing social media presence.
Befittingly, there was director Stephen Fry – on location on the set of the new ‘Hobbit’ film in New Zealand – tweeting out the news of the shirt deal to his 4.2 million Twitter followers. That’s the world that City seek to inhabit off their rise into the Premier League big-time.
Little wonder that Aviva are enjoying the ride; their faith in backing what was once League One football being rewarded a hundred-fold over.
“Aviva have had Championship football and then League One football, then Championship again and now Premier League, so they have kicked every ball with us over the last four years,” said McNally. “So we are absolutely thrilled that they have decided to stick with us and to give the club some certainty in a difficult sponsorship market.”
No figures were mentioned, but the value of such a prominent association with a Premier League brand shouldn’t be under-estimated given the latest global viewing figures suggest a reach of 650 million households worldwide.
From a chief executive’s point of view, McNally can now put that ‘main sponsor’ deal to bed for the next three years; re-visit once his work in re-building a new City Stand is complete, for example.
“You look at how many of those Premier League clubs change their shirt sponsor every year – and that’s out of necessity. So for us to find a big local – and yet global – brand to work with was always right at the top of our shopping list and Aviva have fitted the bill.”
City’s experience of finding themselves appealing to a fan base scattered to the four corners of the globe is, of course, mirrored by that of Aviva – albeit customers as opposed to fans.
“We are a business that trades in a global market,” said Anne Filatotchev, marketing director at Aviva as the relationship between club and its main sponsor deepened yet further.
“Too have a partnership with a Premier League football club, where our brand is seen in millions of homes across the world every week, is a great asset to have. We are proud to be continuing this strong relationship for a further four years,” she added.
History too, continues to play its part. For generations of Canary supporters, Aviva remains Norwich Union. The fact that the club’s principal shareholders – TV cook and writer Delia Smith and her husband Michael Wynn Jones – have set such store by keeping a ‘community’ ethos at the heart of the club has also dove-tailed perfectly with Aviva’s ambitions in this regard.
Little wonder everyone was all smiles this afternoon as Messrs Hoolahan, Holt, Pilkington, Bennett (E), Morison and Martin modelled the new kit – complete with its away-style collar. ‘Pass It On’ was the viral video message that Fry helped to promote.
“This new contract is also about Aviva’s heritage and support for local UK communities – Norwich is the headquarters of our General Insurance business and we have around 6,000 staff working in the city, many of whom are Norwich City fans,” said Filatotchev, promising further community-focussed partnerships in the years ahead.
“As part of our sponsorship we have a programme of sport-related activities locally that will also benefit the community here,” she added.