Sainsbury’s claims Paralympics ‘payback’

Sainsbury’s CEO Justin King says the supermarket is already seeing a “payback” from its investment into sponsoring the Paralympics.

Paralympic swimmer Ellie Simmonds

King claims that the supermarket’s involvement in the Games as the sole Paralympic-only sponsor has positively affected the perception of its brand and improved its relationship with customers and staff.

Speaking to Marketing Week at the launch of its £1m Paralympics legacy initiative Active Kids for All, King said: “When you enjoy the good will which we have from our association with the [Paralympic] Games, we’re undoubtedly already seeing some payback [from our investment] as a business through our customers and staff.

“The ROI will not just be measured in pure marketing terms – although I’m sure that will be great too – but in changing social perceptions of disability and in our relationships with customers.”

According to YouGov’s Brand Index data, however, Sainsbury’s has only registered a marginal uplift in Buzz rankings, which scores the net balance of whether people have heard positive or negative things about the brand. It increased to 20.1 (14 September) from 19.5 on the day of the Opening Ceremony.

Sainsbury’s wants to help drive change at a grass roots level by helping disabled young people get involved in school sports and its Active Kids for All initiative will fund an education programme to teach school PE teachers how to include disabled children in school sports lessons. It is also extending its support of the British Paralympic Association for four further years.

King says: “The Paralympic Games has changed our view of the way sport can include able bodied and disabled children. We didn’t want to leave the Games as the end of the story. For a lot of people it will be the beginning. The Paralympics was inspiring but it shouldn’t just be inspiring – we have to turn that into action. The BPA talks about momentum and we’ve got real pace from the Paralympics.”

The supermarket hopes to further capitalise on its involvement with the Paralympics after London 2012 and will continue to support the British Paralympic team though the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia and Rio 2016.

King added: “It’s much more than legacy, it’s about recognising that something has changed in society. It’s not just about the main event and the Paralympic games we’ve just had, but we need to kick this moving ball on to bigger and better things. That’s why we’re supporting the BPA on to Rio and supporting schools.

As a result of its involvement in the Paralympics, Sainsbury’s has worked with Remploy to increase the number of disabled people it employs and has taken on more than 1,700 staff with disabilities in the last year.

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