HSBC has launched a series of coaching clinics in India. It is offering children a chance to play at the grass courts of Wimbledon in August, through ‘The Road to Wimbledon’. Former tennis player and HSBC’s brand ambassador Tim Henman was in the country inaugurate the event. Also in town was Giles Morgan, global head of sponsorships and events, HSBC Holdings.
Campaign India caught up with Morgan, for more on the initiative, and leveraging sports sponsorships. Edited excerpts:
How important is India as a market for HSBC? Where would it rank in terms of business among different markets for HSBC?
A short answer for this would be that India is important. Our global sponsorship strategy is very precise and is based on our overall global business. We are focussing on our most important customers in our most important markets with associations that match our own purpose and value.
We are focussing on fewer, bigger events and maximising the investment for them. India is one of our top 15 priority markets. Our business spans over 80 countries, and we’ve identified 15 priority markets where, in sponsorship terms, we will look to invest in the future. Since we’re going through an extensive cost saving and cost efficiency drive, what we’re looking at is utilising our assets over the world and using them in as many markets as possible.
When did HSBC start its association with Wimbledon and how is this partnership working?
We started in 2008. When we started we were focussing on the UK market. Now, what we are doing is, to maximise the benefit of the sponsorship we’re looking to leverage Wimbledon in those markets that are priority, and in those where we feel there’s resonance.
Very few brands in India are looking at tennis as a marketing option - what's the insight behind this move in India?
The reason why we’re here supporting Wimbledon is that, it is one of the world’s greatest sporting events. It’s very attractive to customers who we are attracted to. It also has a very broad appeal and when we looked to the demographics of where Wimbledon resonated, India was one of the top markets. There is great passion for tennis and Wimbledon in particular for this market and so this is a pilot programme to ascertain how we can use our brand association with Wimbledon in this market. We do something similar in the USA, UK, France, Australia and Mexico. As a global business, we’re trying to utilise our asset.
We feel the brand resonance that Wimbledon has to tennis fans is extremely international and powerful.
(In) All of our sponsorships, we invest in the grassroots to help the development of the future of the sport. Banks are a catalyst for growth, so it’s important that we invest in the grassroots. This year, this is our first initiative in India for Wimbledon. We’ll then see (in four or five months) whether we want to extend this initiative, or create more initiatives.
You head sponsorship and events – what are the other sponsorship and event opportunities (besides sports) that HSBC leverages globally?
We sponsor a fair amount of culture around the world. We exhibit arts in particular because we believe in showcasing international arts and artefacts in key markets, as HSBC, which is an international business. In 2015, we’ll be celebrating our 150th anniversary through a fairly major programme. The associative equity will be our own history - the history of the bank since we launched in 1865. We’ll be talking about our development and in terms of that India will be big because one of our earliest offices was in Kolkata, and a lot of our staff earlier consisted of Indians because of the trade associations. So, we’ll be using our own heritage as a way of communicating to our staff, stakeholders and customers.
Other than tennis, HSBC has tied up with golf tournaments and rugby tournaments. Could you explain the affinity towards certain sports?
Golf is a sport that has values that match our own. It has great history and heritage just like HSBC. It was even founded by a Scotsman (so was HSBC). It appeals a lot to our commercial customers. We sponsor various golf properties over the world in our priority markets. We are using golf as an expression in those markets.
For rugby, we sponsor Rugby 7s. This, like Golf, is a new Olympic sport in Brazil 2016. The two sports are looking to appeal to new markets and that’s what the Olympic Games provides. We are a catalyst for emerging markets and growth and that’s why we’ve associated with such sports.
How do you evaluate RoI on sponsorships and event associations?
Over the last seven years, we have pioneered a metric and measurement system which is very unique to us. Our objectives for sponsorship are very well understood and we’re very clear on them. For those objectives, we need to have very clear and fierce measurement to absolutely understand the value and return.
Typically, marketers think of sponsorships as investments in terms of brand associations, awareness and equity. We measure all of this, but we also measure client engagement, internal engagement, experiential, B2B, B2C and more. We have a whole raft of measurement across our sponsorship which is probably the leading measurement system in finance for any sponsor. Which means, for a bank that is very keen to maximise RoI, I’m able to provide clear objectives as to why we started the sponsorship and clear measurement to show whether we’re successful compared year-to-year -- whether we’re a continuing a trend of success, or whether we have event or sponsorship fatigue.
Now, with Henman: What's the idea behind launching the coaching clinic? How will it be promoted in India?
Henman is a brand ambassador for HSBC. We don’t sponsor individuals but we have a number of brand ambassadors in the sports we cover to tell our story. We have worked with Tim for many, many years starting from 2008 after he retired. He’s a committee member for Wimbledon and has a great affinity and passion to help promote tennis, particularly among youngsters. What’s really exciting now is that in India, we’re starting in a small way to tell the story about the road to Wimbledon. 20,000 children take part in this in the UK and to have Indian children there will be fantastic for us. Star Sports and BBC will be featuring these children.
The event will not be promoted more than what we’re doing already. Largely, PR will be used for this and we’ll be seeing the potential and appetite for Wimbledon in the country.
It’s all very well reading marketing demographics and spending hours on Powerpoint, but you’ll get a much better view being in market. We don’t know the potential, but we’re pretty excited about it.