Africa’s Absa Extends The Conversation Beyond Football
July 28, 2021
Jay Stuart speaks to Peter Waweru, Marketing Manager at Absa Group in Africa, to discuss how the organisation utilises their sponsorships across a range of sports.
One of the underpinnings of sports sponsorship is the idea of enabling a brand to tap into the positive attributions of a sports property by association − that the brand can in a certain sense piggy-back on the sport. It would be hard to think of a better example of doing that in a strategic way than what has happened in the banking sector in Africa, where a football property has smoothed a complete re-branding of one of the biggest groups.
For years, Barclays Africa benefitted from the parent brand’s sponsorship as title sponsor and then banking partner of the English Premier League, the most popular competition in East Africa, the heartland of its multi-country operations. In 2018, the Barclays Africa name changed to Absa Group with a new logo. But the EPL connection has continued.
“We have had to be creative in the way we bring to light the sponsorship and the way we leverage it.”
“We have had to be creative in the way we bring to light the sponsorship and the way we leverage it,” says Peter Waweru, Absa Group’s marketing manager. “From a global perspective, we’re not one of the sponsors but Barclays is one of our shareholders and we are the financial partner in Africa and we have the right to utilise the property in various activations. We have a lot of African players in the EPL so consumers see the connection, the EPL is a mass property that appeals across all demographics.”
Absa also sponsors golf, appealing to the “mass affluent” target. “The emerging middle class is growing and they’re spending. Golf is a property that speaks to their aspirations.” The group invested KES30 million ($280,000) in this year’s Magical Kenya Open and Kenya Savanna Classic tournaments.
“In Kenya, one of the things that we’ve undertaken is partnering with local teams and supporting them through different kinds of mentorship.”
To get the most from the association, Absa works with former EPL players like Michael Essien of Ghana or Nigerian Jay-Jay Okocha as well as ex-England star Michael Owen. “We have much invested in bringing the legends closer to audience,” Peter say. “In the past we have been able to bring them to audiences in person. During the Covid crisis, we have been using our social media channels and virtual sessions and fans can ask them interesting questions and it becomes very relatable.”
Absa is especially focused on extending the football conversation to the rest of people’s lives. “In Kenya, one of the things that we’ve undertaken is partnering with local teams and supporting them through different kinds of mentorship to prepare young people for their working lives with knowledge and skills.”
“Our purpose is to bring possibilities to life”
“Our purpose is to bring possibilities to life,” he adds. “We live on a continent where people find ingenious ways of doing things. If you look at our great footballers now playing on global platforms, they started from very humble beginnings, sometimes playing with an improvised ball before they had access to real ones. They found a way forward. It’s a spirit that we as a brand recognise not just in football, but in other things, be it business or whatever. We want to nurture that spirit and help make aspirations.”
Absa is also extending that beyond football, especially into athletics. “It’s an area that we are focusing on to see how we can scale up our participation and help grow the next the next generation of great athletes,” he says. “And a great thing about athletics is that it covers such a wide range of sporting disciplines and that means lots of ways to activate.”