6 Nations

  • The RBS 6 Nations starts this weekend, providing husbands and partners up and down the land with an excuse to drink beer and not go shopping for the next 6 weeks. The Eye will definitely be among them.

    Amidst the cheers for heroic tackles and groans for missed penalties, there will no doubt be much wailing and gnashing of teeth over why RBS (or the taxpayer) is spending £20million to sponsor the tournament for another four years.

    RBS remains a commercial organisation and, whatever we might think about how it got into the current mess, it is in the tax-payers interests that it returns to profit as soon as possible. This means the bank must continue competing for business and give businesses and consumers a reason to choose it.

    There are sound commercial reasons for the sponsorship. International rugby, especially the six nations, has always attracted a strong corporate and ABC1 consumer audience, providing a very close fit with the bank's target markets, not only in the UK and Ireland, but also in Asia where RBS has a significant presence. As the TV audience and ticket sales show, demand for the game remains high and it is, therefore, an ideal platform for the brand to re-establish some measure of corporate success.

    The balance of the bank’s sports sponsorship portfolio may not be so lucky, particularly the F1 sponsorship, which always had a whiff of the chief executives whim about it. Positioned as part of the strategy to build a global brand, RBS selected Williams as its team, only to watch it go backwards on the grid almost as fast as the RBS share price has done since - perhaps it was an omen.

    Andy Murray, Luke Donald, The European Tour and NatWest Cricket will all be wondering whether they will be the next victims of a 'strategic review'.

    But let's get back to the rugby. Scotland play Wales at Murrayfield and the latest news is that Gavin Henson is out injured. Will anybody notice or will all eyes be on who is occupying the hospitality seats? Our guess is that Sir Fred will elect to watch it on the telly.

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