Why Suncorp chose to back netball

Arvind Hickman
By Arvind Hickman | 20 June 2017
Suncorp takes over as principal partner of netball from ANZ.

Suncorp’s investment in netball is already paying dividends in helping the financial services giant build its brand and engage with more families and women across the country.

The financial services giant is the inaugural principal partner of Super Netball, a five-year deal that encompasses naming rights of the elite competition, sponsorship of the Australian Diamonds and grassroots program NetSetGo.

But the brand’s massive punt on netball has much more meaning behind it than simply reaching out to new fans; it hopes to help raise the self-esteem of girls and young women.

AdNews caught up with chief customer experience officer Mark Reinke to get an exclusive inside look behind why Suncorp has backed the sport and how the value it has derived in year one.

AdNews: Why did Suncorp come on board as principal sponsor of Super Netball?

Mark Reinke (MR): “2017 has been a breakout year for women’s sport and as a national brand like Suncorp it gives us opportunities that are quite unique. It gives as an opportunity to engage families and particularly women who make many of the important household decisions, particularly in financial services.

“We want to build our brand uniquely and nationally but we also wanted to make a difference in an issue that people care about. We saw the issue of self-esteem and confidence in girls as being that issue. Netball is a progressive and well-run sport and we saw an opportunity to make a difference beyond the game – on and off the court. It’s about helping young girls build their self-esteem and confidence rather than just attributing our brand to that sport.

AdNews: What does your sponsorship package entail?

MR: “It’s a particularly compelling partnership for two reasons. Firstly, it includes support from the very grassroots to the elite level. At the grassroots that is programs like NetSetGo for the very younger girls at school to develop active habits. This goes right through to the Suncorp Super Netball and we're a major partner of the Diamonds, the Australian team, and Fast5 series.

“The other part is how integrated our sponsorship is with the broadcast. We have full confidence the product we are investing in will have broadcast support. We’re not only entered in this relationship with netball but also with Channel Nine.

AdNews: How does Channel Nine’s unique revenue-sharing partnership with Netball Australia benefit sponsors?

MR: “It’s unique and what it does is give us confidence that the code will receive mainstream broadcast support. That’s important because with that comes engagement in the sport, new people being brought to the sport and we can play a key role. Our brand also has greater exposure. Nine’s involvement with netball was part of the appeal. 

AdNews: What are some of the highlights of the past season from a Suncorp perspective?

MR: “We’re particularly happy with the performance of the series. It has proved to be a very strong platform and the product itself is fast and entertaining. From a sporting perspective we think this is one of the most exciting products in Australia – it’s tough, it’s fast, it’s entertaining.

“Attendances at the games have been very strong and TV audiences have been at least meeting or exceeding the expectations that Nine, netball and ourselves had. In terms of the first year of this expanded competition by any measure it’s been a success.

“The second benefit is the engagement that we see with our brand. We’ve done that through our TeamGirls program, which is across a number of social platforms, at game and in broadcast. This is around helping build confident girls on and off the court and we can see very clearly that there is significant engagement that netball is attracting and engaging families and their children of all ages. This provides an opportunity for Suncorp to engage and provide real value that is unique. 

AdNews: How are you measuring this engagement?

MR: “We’re only a short distance in so you have to take the simple quantitative metrics that you can get in four or five months. We’ll look at the performance of the overall platform in terms of audiences and attendances. Then we’ll look at the number of customers engaging across Facebook and other social platforms with our brand and TeamGirls. We’ll look at on court, ambassadors like Australian Diamonds captain Laura Geitz and how key segments are engaging with them. We set targets for that and we are very happy with where that is going after four months.

“The longer term metrics are around how we build our brand and how we connect that to key segments in the market and, ultimately, behavioural change. Behavioural change includes how we encourage more girls into the sport, how we keep them involved and increasingly how we make a difference off the field, i.e. are we really playing a useful role in building confident girls.” 

AdNews: The inaugural winners of Super Netball are the Sunshine Coast Lightning, they are also Queenslanders like Suncorp – that’s a remarkable coincidence…are you pleased with the result? 

MR: “I think what was even better was that it was a new team and it’s great to see new teams that are successful. So regardless of where that team comes from it pretty much shows the depth of talent in this country and also how the competition has been able to attract talent from other countries to clubs like the Lightning.” 

Suncorp Group is one of the largest backers of sport in Australia, it sponsors several large stadiums, including Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane and AAMI Park in Melbourne, and as well as codes.

Suncorp believes that sports partnerships allows its brands to provide experiences for its customers and is a core part of its marketing strategy.

The insurance giant’s sponsorship of netball is its most comprehensive investment in one sport and about more than just providing an experience, it’s about trying to drive positive behavioural change. 

Further reading: Check out AdNews' end of season review, which includes the thoughts of Netball Australia CEO Marne Fechner and Nine's director of sport Tom Malone.

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