The West Nally Group was a highly specialised event marketing organisation. It worked with world sports federations, marketing international sports events to major advertisers.
During the 1970’s and 1980’s international sport enjoyed dramatic growth, most notably in world events and television coverage. There was a parallel growth in demand for marketing services, to enable sport to raise funds on an international scale.
In this environment, the West Nally Group was recognised as a pioneer. It had developed a new marketing approach, which had raised substantial, long-term income for sport while enhancing the dignity and status of major events.
Strongly opposed to heavy-handed commercialism in sport, all West Nally initiatives were directed towards promoting the ultimate authority of the governing sports federation and respecting the requirements of amateur sport.
Much of West Nally’s work enhanced the position of amateur sports by directing resources to the governing federation, rather than to individuals. Such resources could then be used under the total control of the federation, to the benefit of the entire sport.
Initially, the company concentrated on national sports sponsorship in Britain, for clients including Benson & Hedges, Esso, Ford and Norwich Union. Between 1976 and 1978, a profound change of direction took the company into a new area of marketing with the first world association between an international sports federation (FIFA) and a major corporation (The Coca-Cola Company). International sponsorship was born. Thereafter it was developed and refined by West Nally into a system for supporting world sports events.
Companies in search of a world audience knew that sport could deliver it. But first, sport had to interpret itself to sponsors in a way that made sense, by injecting creativity and disciplined marketing principles.
Through practical example and discussion, West Nally was able to demonstrate the importance of sports federations retaining central control of their marketing rights, rather than passing them over piecemeal to local promoters and venue owners.
The benefits of consistent rights control became apparent – West Nally’s achievements for the IAAF, FIFA and the ITF led force to the argument. West Nally became the definitive reforming influence in the marketing of sport. Big competitions, like the Davis Cup and the World Ski Cup, were gradually replacing haphazard fragmented commercialism with centralised marketing and sponsorship.
By offering involvements to only a limited number of companies, the overall direction of the top sports events was towards less sponsors but better presentation and more stable relationships, generating greater financial return.
Most innovations in modern sports marketing can be traced back to West Nally. Among the specific techniques introduced were: long-term packaging of events in the same sport; the concept of exclusivity; multi-board advertising; regular seminars for sponsors; subsidised TV distribution to achieve bigger audiences and better promotion for events and, finally, more emphasis on research.
West Nally had specialist divisions for Music, Television and Merchandising.
Green Shield Trading Stamps
Grassroots tennis training for 50p – was sponsored by Green Shield Trading Stamps – (now Argos). This activity also brought the company into favourable contact with local councils and authorities that could assist Green Shield in its street signage needs.
Promoting Ford cars to two car families through Amateur Golf Tournaments. Research then showed that two car families were more affluent and tended to include golf players.
Kraft foods and Athletics
The earliest sponsorship was in athletics was across schools in the UK in the mid ‘70’s with Kraft foods. In those days processed cheese needed a boost as a good children’s snack and taking up a major sponsorship role in UK athletics helped Kraft to promote its products with a healthy and wholesome, energy-giving aura.
The Kraft role at the top-level pre-Olympic athletics meetings also helped young school children to identify with their role models. The same Kraft number bibs they wore in their school events were worn by the Olympic contenders.
World Money – Bank of America Travellers Cheques
– which eventually became VISA – were targeted in 1976 by West Nally to involve global products into global events. A proposal was prepared for “A Co-ordinated Marketing Programme for International Athletics”. It was for the track and field world cup and international technical aid programme. Even then reaching 120 countries in one go was highly desirable.
In the UK an insurance company – Cornhill – put its entire advertising budget into sponsoring test cricket. It was a theme used throughout every facet of the company. A premium income increase of £2 million per annum resulted.
Meanwhile, Provident Mutual was introduced to the Badminton Association with a new Club Championship being the route to introduce badminton players to their life assurance and pension products.
In the early 1980’s Iveco started to use sport as one of its primary communications platforms. Masterminded by West Nally, Iveco used sport with great success to short-cut its way to objectives that might otherwise have taken more time – and much more money – to achieve.
The first requirement was to get a new name – Iveco – familiar to a world audience. Iveco was the result of a merger between old and established truck makers in Italy, Germany and France. West Nally introduced Iveco into the 1982 FIFA World Cup in Spain, the Davis Cup and the first World Athletics Championships in Helsinki. At all events Iveco had advertising boards in camera view and with the vast television audiences came the question “Who and what is Iveco”.
The Gateway Building Society though its rugby sponsorship achieved access to all 2,000 UK rugby clubs – 500,000 members – in a drive for new savers. Each time a saver was recruited, the club received a commission.
The Gateway Building Society also became a sponsor at the RFU Twickenham Stadium. This was exclusive in its category and went way beyond a direct advertising exposure programme. It was a means of making contact, building relationships and developing business.
This Society was one of the first companies to join the Twickenham rugby programme in 1982 and found rugby a valuable source of new business. The company was willing to work hard in terms of exploiting the platform provided by its association with the RFU and Twickenham.
It reported that the excellent hospitality facilities – in conjunction with its exclusive presence – has very successfully generated considerable interst and new business in terms of savings.
The private hospitality boxes in the new South Stand are an excellent setting for business meetings. With companies’ own commercials on the Diamond Vision screen, signage around the ground and products/services exclusively displayed.
The Gateway advertisement in the official programme – exclusive in its area of business – was designed to reinforce the Society’s role and presence at Twickenham. In the Rugby Post, the RFU’s official magazine – Gateway have reinforced their presence with an editorial feature, backed by advertising.
Through sponsorship of table tennis through the English Table Tennis Association and supporting the English Championships, Norwich Union received excellent recognition for its insurance products.
Cameras, Copiers and Calculators were the key Canon product groups and throughout the 1980’s were an ongoing West Nally client becoming “official camera, copier and calculator” at almost all the world’s major sports events.
Canon’s role, while protecting its three main product groups, also included advertising, promotion and public relations – illustrating very well how a sophisticated use of sport can be made to work at different levels.
However, one of its prime purposes was to convey the aura that the professionals use Canon cameras. Top sports photographers are Canon’s opinion formers. If they can be influenced, the High Street will follow.
Thus the importance of the extensive, sophisticated Camera Loan and Repair services that Canon ran at almost every major sports event worthy of the name. The results were measurable and they were good. During 1980, football promotions linked to Canon’s involvement in the European Championship produced a 70% increase in sales of the A1 camera range.
Gillette’s involvement in the 1978 FIFA World Cup in Argentina was initially dictated by a desire for international television exposure.
The launch of the GII razor in Argentina with promotions and heavy sampling achieved 25% market penetration in less than six months. The normal achievement time for this level of penetration was considered by the company to be four years. Such results helped reinforce the West Nally policy that “fewer companies with expanded rights and roles” was the way to go.
Blank tape competitors – TDK and BASF
Blank tape was big business in the ‘80’s and West Nally was able to produce a major ski sponsorship package for BASF – the BASF Alpine Ski World Cup.
Meanwhile TDK became a major sponsor of the Rolling Stones 1982 revival tour – West Nally’s first major music sponsorship success.
With the ban on tobacco advertising on television, major brands like Benson & Hedges had substantial budget and no audience. West Nally were able to introduce the distinctive gold brand to “The Benson & Hedges Golden Year of Sport” – involving quality events in cricket, snooker, showjumping, tennis, golf, horse-racing and music.
KLM and Football
In 1977 West Nally devised a programme to develop Dutch airline KLM’s traffic within football.
Using the forthcoming FIFA World Cup in Argentina as a key, West Nally used its contacts within the sport and within the FIFA/Coca Cola development programmes to push KLM to the fore. By specifically targeting football, including team travel, corporate hospitality and a KLM Football Personality of the Year – KLM had a solid, popular and very focussed marketing and PR plan.