Toshiba forks out for RWC sponsorship, rebranded Montana also in on the act

Japanese tech behemoth Toshiba has followed up its sponsorship of the Rugby World Cup in 2007 by signing on as an official sponsor for next year’s event. And Pernod Ricard New Zealand, with its newly named international version of Montana, Brancott Estate, is also on board.

As expected, the juicy details for the Toshiba deal were not revealed. But thankfully someone has pulled a figure out of the air and estimated how much the one year deal is worth. And that figure is US$4 million.

Toshiba will run an advertising campaign using a rugby theme and will also get coverage on stadium signage, corporate advertisements and banner advertisements on the official Rugby World Cup 2011 website. It will also be providing its fancy televisions, notebook PCs and digital multi-function services at the tournament.

“Australians and New Zealanders are sports fanatics and this sponsorship provides Toshiba with some great exposure across both countries – countries that enjoy strong history of rivalry in Rugby,” says Mark Whittard, managing director, Toshiba (Australia).

But if the Football World Cup is anything to go by, there seems to be a fine line between awesome marketing and ambush marketing. And after the success of unofficial sponsor Nike’s ‘Write the future’ campaign, plenty questions have been asked about the effectiveness of official sponsorship (Nielsen found out which FIFA sponsors and non-sponsors attracted the most buzz in the lead up to the tournament, here’s a study from the 1999 Rugby World Cup that shows positive feelings didn’t really lead to sponsorship recall and, if you click on chapter three, here’s an interesting discussion with AUT’s Dave Bibby and Sugar’s Nigel Corbett talking about ambush marketing at the FIFA World Cup on the Ad Show).

Emirates, MasterCard, Heineken and ANZ are already signed up. And wine and spirits producer Pernod Ricard New Zealand has joined them (the first fully New Zealand based official sponsor, it claims), with Sports Pro Media estimating the company is paying around US$2.5 million for the privilege.

But Montana won’t be the official booze of the Cup. It will be Brancott Estate. According to the Herald, the name had to be changed after confusion in the overseas markets led to a belief the wine was from Montana the state and, added to that, Marlborough was apparently too close to cigarette brand Marlboro.

Brancott Estate, which is named in honour of the Brancott Vineyard where Montana first pioneered New Zealand’s flagship varietal Marlborough sauvignon blanc, will become the new name for the Montana brand globally and the name change will be rolled out in September and October. It will still be called Montana on the Classics range in New Zealand, with Brancott Estate being acknowledged on the label to “maintain the link with the rest of the range”. And all other premium wines in the current Montana range, such as Montana Reserves, Montana Letter Series or Montana Living Land, will change to the Brancott Estate name from the 2010 vintage.

New Zealand Winegrowers’ Association chief executive Philip Gregan says the New Zealand wine industry needs more focused brand investment and this Rugby World Cup 2011 sponsorship is a good way to do it.

“It is exactly the kind of investment that the New Zealand wine industry needs to continue to make to uphold its premium price positioning and realise potential in overseas markets.”

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