Blanchard says that the Commonwealth Games is hoping for a similar set-up to O2’s sponsorship of the England rugby team as it searches for a long-term Team England sponsor.
Giving a time frame of “by the end of the year” to sign a sponsor up, he describes the deal, for a brand to support Team England for the Commonwealth Games in Australia in 2018, as a “historic opportunity” to align with a team at “the peak of its powers.”
However, the world of athletics remains a controversial area for brands. Adidas is thought to be exploring ways to end its sponsorship deal with the IAAF three years early after the World Anti-Doping Agency concluded that doping was “widespread” within athletics and that corruption had been “rife” within the IAAF.
But despite this controversial backdrop, Blanchard insists the Commonwealth Games is “not struggling” and making “good progress” in signing up sponsors.
He told Marketing Week: “Momentum is really high off the back of Glasgow 2014 and we’re making good progress, it isn’t a struggle. I’d like to have somebody in place to sponsor Team England before the end of the year with view to a long-term partnership going into 2022.
“In an ideal world there would be no negativity but it is a similar situation to what’s happening with FIFA. There is no credibility with FIFA but the sport of football itself remains strong, and I believe there is still a credibility with athletics even if it is lacking at the IAAF.
“Yes, athletics is the big one, but we have 17 sports in total so the Commonwealth Games brand is big enough to cope with bumps.”
In particular, he believes Team England is an attractive proposition for brands because it can guarantee success. He cites its medal haul at Glasgow 2014, where the team topped the table for the first time in 30 years with a haul of 174 medals.
“The team is guaranteed success and that’s attractive for brands,” adds Blanchard. “I don’t think you can compare this sponsorship to say football as those guys are in a completely different stratosphere. But what the Commonwealth Games can offer is a real Britishness and diversity for brands.”
Commonwealth Games England currently has brands including Shakespeare Martineau, National Express and STA Travel signed up as sponsors.