The supermarket chain will be providing around 1,000 cricket clubs with food when the sport’s governing body the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) runs its annual “Club Open Days”, while staff will be able to volunteer while being paid as usual. It has also pledged to support the ECB’s Charitable Trust by donating money for every four or six scored during an international game over the summer, with funds going to supporting community cricket.
The move is aimed at supporting cricket at the grass roots level, nurturing young talent and providing social benefits to local communities. Waitrose will also be supporting the team of the year award at the Asian Cricket Awards.
Speaking to Marketing Week, Waitrose’s head of marketing, Rupert Ellwood, says: “The activity that we are doing in support of communities can create a great connection with the brand,” he added.
It will communicate the sponsorship at a national level mainly through its myWaitrose loyalty card, with 60 per cent of activity targeted at new and existing members. There will be a myWaitrose presence at all home international games, with existing card holders encouraged to scan their card to let Waitrose know they are a cricket fan. The supermarket is also keen to sign up new members, offering rewards such as goody bags and chances to meet cricket players.
Ellwood said this plays into the strengths of Waitrose’s loyalty card, which customers understand is about more than just points.
“This is a great way of communication relevant promotions and offers to customers. It enables us to talk to customers about what is relevant to them, creating deep relationships and having better knowledge of customers,” he said.
The sponsorship will also play into Waitrose’s increasing focus on content. It is launching a dedicated cricket hub on its website that will include content created to bring food and sport together and feature cricketers, chefs and personalities associated with Waitrose. The main focus will be a competition pitting 10 chefs from cricket grounds around the UK against each other.
Ellwood admits that monitoring the success of sponsorships is difficult, in particular because it is about brand extension and reach. However, he said Waitrose will be measuring any brand extensions created through the tie-up, as well as how it has engaged local communities.
Ellwood said the tie-up between the ECB and Waitrose was a “natural fit” because cricket and food are “synonymous”. He highlighted that test cricket is the only sport where the players stop twice for food, meaning the supermarket has a key role to play whether people are watching or playing the sport.
“Food and cricket are absolutely intrinsically linked and we believe that with our credentials around food we can have a real impact on the game,” he said.