How an idle asset led to NRMA’s Test naming rights deal with Cricket Australia

The final Test Match in the current summer of cricket saw rain delays prevent Australia from completing a sweep, however, it was one of Cricket Australia’s newest partners that spotted an opportunity amidst the bad weather.

IAG’s NRMA Insurance became Cricket Australia’s official Test name partner in September last year, with this summer’s action the first chance to showcase the deal.

Yet the brand’s involvement in cricket was first instigated by an activation idea from the brand’s media agency, Initiative, which saw a world-first branded rain cover tarp come to life this week.

“The whole idea for the involvement in cricket came about from the idea of the tarp,” Mediabrands Content Studio managing director, Olivia Warren told Mumbrella.

“We engaged Cricket Australia, just to see if that was possible, and out of all the stadiums within Australia, only the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) and their curators (groundskeepers) were the ones that approved it.

“And then subsequently, it became this kind of behemoth of the Test partnership.”

Luckily for NRMA, the Sydney Test has a history of washouts, with the most of any Australian Test host, even edging Manchester by one day.

“Where is a meaningful opportunity for NRMA to manifest the definition of Help?”, chief strategy and product officer at Initiative, Chris Colter told Mumbrella. “Going out there on a rain-soaked game and protecting the pitch just felt like a no-brainer, but we weren’t a sponsor, so it felt like one of those ideas that was potentially impossible.”

Colter said it was “definitely” part of the plan in the first place to have the activation in Sydney in particular. “I also think it’s one of those things where you present an idea, but then you justify the rationale behind it.”

Part of this came from the knowledge of Sydney’s challenges with rain.

One-and-a-half days of cricket were stopped due to rain, with the entirety of day three paused due to the weather. With this though, came the chance for NRMA to display its positioning for those in the stands, and those viewing at home to see.

Several hours of TV coverage saw the branded tarps displayed

Colter added that during the negotiations to make the activation come to life with Cricket Australia, the opportunity for the naming rights for Australian Tests arose.

Acting-chief marketing officer of IAG, Zara Curtis said the branded tarp was an “inspired tactical execution” which allows NRMA to demonstrate its ‘Help’ positioning in a small way. 

Curtis said this idea, combined with supporting the 220,000-plus volunteers that make cricket possible in Australia helped establish the brand platform for ‘Proud Helpers of Australian Cricket’, which will exist over the next three years.

While the tarp itself has been the subject of criticism from News Corp owned media outlet The Daily Telegraph, which suggested it was the reason for further rain delays on day four of the Test, it’s understood that it was produced in the same manner as all other tarps by the SCG ground staff, just with the artwork added for the brand.

“One of the reasons why the idea was so powerful,” Colter concludes, “was because that tarp was just an idle asset, it was probably the one area in the stadium that was brand-free, and not commercialised.”

“This way, we were able to provide more value back to the sport and I’d hope that we’ve created a case study for other stadiums both here and internationally as a media vehicle.”


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