Louisa Cheetham - Sponsorship & CR Head, Aviva Share PDF Print E-mail
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British insurance firm, Aviva, has a strong presence in sport sponsorship in the country. Having previously partnered UK Athletics up until the London 2012 Olympic Games, Aviva is now the title sponsor of Premiership Rugby and the main sponsor of Norwich City Football Club.

Charged with leading Aviva’s sponsorship strategy is Louisa Cheetham, Sponsorship & CR Head at the company. Having started her career in sport back in 1999 at Octagon, Louisa’s experience and passion for sport, in particular rugby (she was the Communications Manager for British & Irish Lions from 2008-2009), made her a perfect fit for the position, which she began in 2009.

iSportconnect spoke to Louisa about Aviva’s strategy to learn more about the effect of relegation on their partnership with Norwich and how customer interaction is key to all of their relationships.

This interview is also available to watch in video format on iSportconnect TV

By Steve Moorhouse

How did you see the job at Aviva and what drew you to the role?

I was appointed by a friend of mine here. I worked for The Lions in 2009 and I was looking for my next challenge. It was published on the Aviva job portal and I applied. It was different because it took me away from rugby and into athletics. I started work here in 2009.

You have vast experience in sports marketing and sponsorship. Can you tell us about your past?

I come from an agency background and I spent nearly 10 years with Octagon, a sports marketing agency. I worked on a variety of brands from Tesco, to Power-Gen in the rugby days. My real speciality is in rugby. I have worked on two World Cups, three Lions tours and have worked for Zurich when they were a sponsor of the Premiership. I have been involved in sport for a long time.

The new bow to my arrow is in the corporate responsibility space, which I have just taken on-board just over a year ago at Aviva.

Aviva has title sponsored Premiership Rugby since 2010-11. How has the relationship worked for Aviva?

Very well! I think that is one of the critical partnerships. We are award winning, having just picked up an award at an industry event a couple of weeks ago. The key thing for us is that we will always address it as a partnership. That is something that often gets overlooked. We work very hard with Premiership Rugby to make our relationship as successful as we possibly can. There is always room for improvement and there is more we can do. We can further integrate within the business, but fundamentally, it is a sport that resonates with our customers, whether that’s those who come direct to us with their car insurance needs, or those who come through the intermediated space such as the brokers and FIAs. It is also growing in popularity. The Rugby World Cup is knocking on our door in 2015 so I hope it will grow and grow.

The deal was extended last year. How will the partnership grow and what will the benefit be to Aviva?

One of the things we have really seen from year one of the partnership, when we were relatively new as an organisation, is that we have really worked hard on delivering for our customer. We give thousands of our assets in our inventory to our customers to drive customer loyalty and reward with the fundamental premise being we want them to stay longer, buy more and of course, recommend us. The rugby and the football is a really good way for us to engage with our customers.

What do you believe the ROI is on the deal?

We work very hard to talk in the same language as our business does. As with any financial services, we talk about net promoter scores, so how much someone recommend us. Therefore we measure through those, awareness, considerations, trust and all of these perform part of our KPIs, in terms of how well our sponsorship assets are performing. There is a strong return and in terms of the ROI it is working for us, whether that is the 36,000 additional pieces of information we got about our customers, through to being able to reward thousands of our customers, it really has worked for us.

Is there solid evidence to show the BT Sport deal has helped Aviva’s business?

It is difficult to link the two but what we have seen is TV audiences have gone up by 31% since BT Sport took over. That is fantastic in terms of a new entrée into the market. People vote with their feet and people are watching and signing up. There is a rich synergy between their demographic and ours. It all helps us in terms of driving awareness to the Aviva Premiership. It is part-and-parcel of what we do across all of our marketing.

What are your favourite activations Aviva have implemented through the partnership?

There has been a lot over the years, but the first under awe sponsorship of the original, record breaking game at Wembley, was a big step change for us. We saw our net promoter score of anyone who had gone to that game go up by +21%. We saw some really tangible benefits. We also sold out our ticket allocation in 24 hours, so again, it proved to us again just how much rugby resonates with our customers. That for me is the favourite.

Insurance companies are prominent in Rugby Union sponsorship. Why is this?

I think the sheer number of insurance and banking shows it fits. We are all after the same audiences. Whilst it is a cluttered marketplace, for us, being absolutely single minded in what we want to do and how we differentiate ourselves in our activations is absolutely key, otherwise you can become lost in the sheer numbers of insurance companies in rugby. That is why we have really focused on customer loyalty and reward through the rugby, rather than through big advertisement.

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