In the Asics rugby case, the performance shoe manufacturer’s sponsorship approach utilised a legend of UK rugby, Sir Ian McGeechan, to help them build their retail sales, rather than a superstar of the sport or an upcoming young player. Why was this so effective at this stage in their brand’s development in the sport when of the 1 million plus rugby players in the UK only around 160,000 are adults, for whom Geech would be personally relevant?
This approach was effective, as initially the audience that Asics needed to win over was not the consumer, but the retailers who control the consumers’ access to products. For this audience, Geech was not only a hero (as most are past players and current fans) but also credible, as he had never worked with a brand in this way and, due to his level of integrity, the retailers knew he would only work with a brand whose product quality matched all its claims. In addition, when it came to retail, the campaign may not have had pulling power with youngsters in the way an icon of the sport would have, but it did resonate highly with fathers, many of whom fund the boot purchase.