Big Sponsorship – 5 Eyebrow-Raising Examples of Corporate Naming Rights
Given the approach of that large football event in South America, I got to thinking about big sponsorship. Sports is traditionally the major arena for naming rights deals, with stadiums, leagues and tournaments taking on the names of their corporate sponsors, in return for huge sums.
Thus it is that in the UK, we currently have the Barclays Premier League, the Tetley’s Stadium and even the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup. The success and influence of these name changes is variable, but they undoubtedly do raise awareness, even if this is mainly limited to sports fans.
But can you go further? Is it possible to maximise your exposure by rebranding something more universal and more inevitable? How about a day of the week? Or a town?
Here are 5 recent examples of eyebrow-raising naming deals
In a superlative-rich first, the newest terminal at the UK’s busiest airport will be taken over by the world’s biggest IT company, to showcase its latest smartphone.
For two weeks, Terminal 5 will be renamed Terminal Samsung Galaxy S5. Samsung will be operating all the signage and 172 digital screens throughout the building.
Russel Taylor, VP of corporate marketing at Samsung Electronics UK & Ireland, described the stunt as a chance “to push the boundaries like no other brand has been allowed to do before.”
Marketers for the hit HBO series came up with the perfect publicity ploy to promote the launch of the new season. No doubt inspired by similarities between the mythical land of Westeros and the British Isles, they convinced an English town to rebrand itself as the fictional capital, King’s Landing.
In another fortnight-long renaming, King’s Langley became the ‘capital of the Seven Kingdoms’, unveiling a new town sign and commissioning a local school choir to sing medieval choral song. The legend was also given the 21st century treatment with the promotion of the hashtag #KingsLandingUK on social media.
The rise of electronic cigarettes has brought smoking back into the world of marketing and advertising after a long period of regulation-induced silence. While doctors and lawmakers ponder over the implications of the new product, the companies making them forge ahead.
In a bold move, Merthyr Town has renamed its stadium the Cigg-E stadium, after the electronic cigarette firm offered a £60,000 three-year sponsorship deal.
Fan responses have been mixed, with one reportedly complaining they would be ‘the butt of everyone’s jokes’ and that every goal scored might be dismissed as just a ‘Lucky Strike’.
Our next example comes from the United States, where the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus is itself named after an insurance company.
Back in 2008, the hospital accepted a new lucrative sponsorship deal, when clothing company Abercrombie & Fitch offered a $10 million donation. In exchange, the hospital was to rename its emergency room the Abercrombie & Fitch Emergency Department and Trauma Center.
Cue outrage from doctors and children’s advocacy groups, who protested the rebrand, citing the comapany’s ‘sexualised’ advertising content. The company later went on to rename the emergency room at Ohio State University in the same way.
A bit of fun for the last one. While unable to uncover evidence of any company actually gaining naming rights over a day of the week, I did find this cheeky campaign that parodies this situation.
In the video ads by British newspaper group The Guardian and Observer, the name takeover of two days of the week works so perfectly that the people’s very vocabulary is altered. The standard Friday afternoon question at the office becomes “What are you doing this Guardian and Observer Weekend?”
The brands coming closest to this rebranding nirvana in real life include TGI Friday’s and Orange Wednesdays.