NatWest says ‘pride’ is returning to the brand as it launches diversity push

NatWest is using its cricket sponsorship to launch a new campaign, ‘Cricket has no boundaries’, as it looks to promote diversity and inclusion.

NatWest has launched a new campaign celebrating the diversity of modern cricket, as it looks to tie up its brand values with its cricket sponsorship.

NatWest has inked a new deal with the England and Wales Cricket Board [ECB] to become principal partner following a 36-year association with the sport.

The ‘Cricket has no boundaries’ campaign is primarily out-of-home, with billboards featuring inspirational messages that utilise inspirational figureheads such as Ebony-Jewel Rainford-Brent, the first black cricketer to play for the England women’s team.

The financial brand will also become the first ever official partner for cricket charity Chance to Shine, which aims to use cricket to help create job opportunities for inner-city youths.

According to NatWest’s chief marketing officer David Wheldon, there has been an eightfold increase in the number of cricket clubs offering women and girls cricket over the past 15 years. He also says 30% of recreational cricketers are now of South Asian heritage, while 5% are registered as disabled.

When translating this idea of diversity across to marketing, he admits brands still have a “long way to go”. However, pointing to campaigns such as Sport England’s ‘This Girl Can’, Wheldon believes the marketing industry is mirroring cricket by gradually becoming more diverse and inclusive in its themes.

The agency sector has always had a better balance but client side is catching up quickly when it comes to having a more diverse voice.

David Wheldon, NatWest

“If I look at the marketing team I had when I arrived, there was not a single direct report who was a woman. Now my team has a 50/50 split for male and females, and the business has a vibrant LGBTQ and BAME community. I guess the agency sector has always had a better balance but client side is catching up quickly when it comes to having a more diverse voice,” he tells Marketing Week.

“We have a really long heritage with cricket. By putting our new 3D logo back on the England team’s shirts and aligning with a diversity message that ties into our new “We Are What We Do” slogan this feels like a slam dunk of a campaign.”

Eight months ago, Wheldon oversaw an ambitious rebrand for NatWest by inviting consumers to hold it to account for its actions – whether good or bad. Following a series of high-profile scandals at NatWest, the campaign’s voiceover admitted “we are stupid” as way of an apology.

According to Wheldon, the campaign was successful at “restoring internal pride” to the business, largely thanks to it featuring real staff in some of its ads. Moving forward, he says the brand will continue with an “honesty is the best policy” approach.

“It didn’t cause a shit storm, like I suggested it might at the time. Yes, it caused some anger, but on the whole the British public were very happy to see NatWest engaging with them honestly and taking a brave stance,” he adds.

“Our staff have had to suffer a lot from the reputational damage we inflicted due to the sins of the past, but the campaign has started to restore some internal pride. It now feels like we’re moving towards optimism as a brand.”

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  • Fiona Blades 18 May 2017 at 4:27 pm

    Sports sponsorship needs care to get it right. Take these two comments from participants in a recent retail banking study as they encounter sponsorship touchpoints:

    “RBS sponsor the 6 nations rugby tournament but are partially owned by the country. Why we allow them to sponsor this when they needed bailing out seems wrong.”

    “I picked my daughter up from football training and saw lots of young people wearing football shirts sponsored by Standard Chartered. It was great to associate the bank with kids having fun, staying fit and healthy.”

    They epitomise the best and worst of sponsorship. In the case of RBS, the expenditure seems profligate in the context of bailout and the person actually states that they would be less likely to choose RBS as a bank in the future. The opposite was true for Standard Chartered, where the positive associations were leading this person to claim that they would be more likely to choose it.

    RBS/NatWest is right to stop the RBS rugby sponsorship and to invest behind NatWest, which is less tarnished by the bailout. And this approach to English cricket has all the ingredients to succeed, as David Wheldon asserts. Diversity in sport looks set to draw on the emotional heartstrings of the public and build pride within the bank. A winning move!

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