|Geoff Cousins- Global Sponsorship Director, Jaguar|
|Profile of the week|
Friday, 14 September 2012 12:59
Geoff Cousins is Global Sponsorship Director for Jaguar, with responsibility for major sports and lifestyle sponsorships and Partnerships.
Geoff has been with Jaguar for 20 years and has held a number of Senior roles, including Chief Financial Officer for Jaguar Land Rover North America and Managing Director of Jaguar UK.
During his time as MD, Geoff guided the revitalisation of the Jaguar Brand, through new product introduction and innovative marketing initiatives in sport and lifestyle marketing, to target younger customer groups. The major elements of the sports strategy was the establishment of the Jaguar Academy of Sport and the sponsorship of the England Cricket Team.
Geoff is a graduate of Warwick University, having achieved an Economics degree. Subsequently, he went back to Warwick to complete an MBA.
Geoff is originally from Newport South Wales and is a keen sports fan, in particular Rugby. He is also involved with a number of charities including NSPCC and Ladies Fighting Breast Cancer.
In recent years, Jaguar has completed a number of sponsorships with sports teams, individuals and broadcasters. How important is this for the Jaguar brand going forward?
From my point of view, it’s very important. Five or six years ago, Jaguar was seen as the old man’s car and the old man’s brand. We knew that cars were changing and becoming more modern, so we needed to bring the brand along with us, along with the product. Sport, I believe was a way to do that. There’s a big connection between sport and business, but we had to do it in a creative, high-value and a low-cost way because we’re a big brand, but a small company. I think it’s been absolutely fundamental in turning the Jaguar brand around in the UK.
Was Jaguar being a small brand behind the withdrawal from motorsport?
No, the main priority for Jaguar is product investment in the future. That’s the number one goal. Then you look at which markets you want to invest more into to get to the volume growth, where the potential is. Then, coming out of that, what sort of sport, the lifestyle and territories you invest in. We’ve got a big lifestyle strategy underway at the moment, which will determine which territories and which markets we enter.
Is there a view to moving back into motorsport in the near future?
Jaguar is a sports company in essence, our roots are in racing and we would love to go back at some time in the future. Probably not Formula One, probably more the Le Mans and class racing, at some point in the future, because of our prestige there.
Jaguars are the current sponsors of Sky Sports Cricket. The company is heavily involved in cricket, is that a big part of Jaguar’s identity?
The contract is four years because we wanted to get two Ashes test series in. Cricket, certainly in the UK is one of the interests of our customer base. Some people would say it was good luck, but I would say it was good judgement that we sponsored England just as they won the Ashes in Australia! We’ve got a very good relationship with Sky Sports and for me it’s all about how you maximise your investments. So, a number of the cricketers will come to dealer events and will come to Jaguar Academy of Sport events.
We’ve got event activation out of it and of course we’ve got the media activation through newspapers and with Sky Sports on TV. The Sky Sports element came about because the sponsorship for Team Sky - the professional cycling team - so there was already a link and a partnership there. For me, it’s about how you work with the partnerships for the value of all the people involved.
Jaguar is also involved with the England cricket team, as well. Was there ever an element of being involved with a sport which is ‘quintessentially British’?
Well no, we just thought cricket was good for our demographics to help us generate more leads and sell more cars. There is a danger of doing something quintessentially British. If it’s viewed as being old fashioned, ‘quintessentially British’ isn’t good. You want to do modern British stuff.
Of course, cricket also appeals in markets like India, South Africa and Australia, as well. It was just a really good opportunity and I knew some of the cricketers. Importantly, I thought they’d work well with us, because there are two rules. Firstly, the best partnerships are the ones where you don’t have to explain why to people, with England cricket, people don’t ask why. The other rule for me is to work with a partner, who wants to work with you as much as you want to work with them. Therefore, you get the stuff that’s not written down in the contract because it’s a two way street.