What Is Barclays’ Sport Strategy?
Pet theory: Barclays made a mistake when it renewed its title deal with the Premier League and today’s story about a deal with the BOA is an attempt to paper over the cracks.
First, some background.
A few things about the Premier League renewal felt odd.
1. The timing: the story broke on the very day Bob Diamond resigned.
2. Distance from the Bob Diamond era:
Diamond was seen as a very pro-sport. He was very central to the bank’s golf portfolio, particularly Phil Mickelson, and the Scottish Open (a personal friendship with Lyle Anderson and a stake in Loch Lomond). There was much talk about Diamond’s Chelsea affiliations, which became a hardy perennial sports desk story come the end of season when he was expected to hand the trophy to Man Utd or latterly, Man City.
Why would the company go public with such a big marketing decision on the very day Diamond resigned?
The bank has been talking values for a while.
Barclays was just the first of several international banks to be implicated in the scandal, and was fined a total £290m by US and UK regulators. The bank, along with most of the other major UK High Street lenders, has also been found culpable in recent years of mis-selling unnecessary payment protection insurance to mortgage borrowers, and overly complex, over-priced interest rate and currency hedges to small businesses. Staff have been told to sign up to five key values – respect, integrity, service, excellence and stewardship.
That they want to associate with Olympism is great for Lord Coe and the BOA.
But it begs the question, what does Barclays stand for?
It is hard to reconcile the story being told by the brand as Premier League title sponsor, and that of bank to the British Olympic team.
Both stories are worth telling, in their own way. But can they both be told at the same time, by the same bank?
John Reynolds broke the BOA story in Marketing.
In 2007, Lloyds TSB became the first backer of London 2012 with a high-profile, £80m agreement, after Barclays had initially been favourite to secure the deal. The brand subsequently entwined its ‘For the journey’ marketing campaign with a countdown to the Games. Lloyds will continue to support National School Sport Week. Barclays is the first new brand the BOA has signed up since it was handed back the commercial rights to Team GB following London 2012. The rights had been handled by organising body LOCOG in the run-up to last year’s Games. The signing represents a coup for the BOA and chairman Lord Coe. They had been criticised for not finding any sponsorship partners since the end of the London Games. Only Adidas has re-signed with the organisation to date.