Why do we do sponsorships?
We sponsor events, teams, sports, projects or individuals that our customers are interested in. When we tap into people's interests and passions, we create affinity and a more receptive audience for our message. In other words, we find 'common ground' with the people we want to talk to.
The old way
In the past, our sole objective was global awareness of RBS while building relationships with key clients. So most of our sponsorship (Williams F1 team, The Open Championship, RBS 6 Nations) was focused on brand visibility and hospitality.
Our new approach to sponsorship
We now look at our sponsorships in a new light, which has led us to end our successful relationships with Formula One and The Open.
We recognise that sponsorships have the ability to do more than drive brand awareness. We now want our sponsorship resources to offer true benefits to local communities and society as a whole. By building partnerships with quality events, organisations and individuals, we can create tangible benefits for people and communities.
This isn't to say that sponsorship is charity - far from it. By doing good in the community we know that we improve perceptions of RBS, which is good for business. By giving back to society we begin to rebuild our connection with the communities we serve. We still have a long way to go, but we've made a good start.
Here are some of the specifics:
Andy, Jamie and Judy Murray
We've been supporting Andy Murray for nearly a decade now. He's been a great ambassador for RBS and has exposed our brand to millions around the world.
We helped Andy, Jamie and Judy Murray to launch Set4Sport - an initiative created and owned by Judy Murray, and central to our new partnership with them. It is a programme of "effective play" designed to help young children to engage in fun games and activities which instill core competencies for various sports. The programme and materials are free (via web site, book, or new mobile app) to parents, children and educators across the UK and beyond.
In rugby, our RBS 6 Nations sponsorship gave us the chance in 2009 to develop RBS RugbyForce - a volunteer-based programme that helps local rugby clubs across the UK and Ireland to engage with their communities and improve their local clubs.
- 414 clubs registered with RBS RugbyForce in 2011
- 80 clubs registered with Ulster Bank RugbyForce during its 2011 inaugural year in Ireland
We still have lots to do - there are still 1,947 clubs in the UK and Ireland that have not yet registered.
A new RugbyForce module for 2012 will help educate rugby clubs on how to become more sustainable businesses.
These committments go even further in Scotland and Ireland, where partnerships with the national governing bodies add a much needed boost to youth rugby programmes across the country.
In cricket, we have been part of a similar programme since 2001. NatWest CricketForce, run by the ECB and sponsored by NatWest, assists and inspires local clubs to engage with their communities to improve their facilities. Involving an estimated 85,000 club and community participants each year, we are proud to have helped in developing one of the UK's largest community volunteer programmes.
In golf, the focus of our support is on The First Tee - a programme which uses the sport of golf to teach life skills to underprivileged young people. Effectiveness is proven by studies which tell us 73% of participants report higher academic confidence and 82% feel more confident in their social skills after three years of participation.
Strengthened by our sponsorship of golfing legend Jack Nicklaus, we're proud to have now brought the program to the UK, where we have started sessions in Manchester and look to expand the programme in 2012.
In Scotland, we have also partnered with the Scottish Golf Union in support of their clubgolf programme. This aims to expose every child in Scotland to the game of golf in the build up to the 2014 Ryder Cup, to be held in Scotland.
In baseball, the community approach to sponsorship is well demonstrated by the Citizens Bank partnership with the Philadelphia Phillies. This is a range of programmes that benefit fans, local children and the community at large.
Ulster Bank sponsorship of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) has enabled us to deliver GAA Force in Ireland and Northern Ireland. In a similar way to RugbyForce, this helps local GAA clubs to work within their communities to improve their club facilities.
This is just the beginning
There are many worthy events and organisations like these in the communities where we operate, and we will help where we can. We're putting more resources into existing programmes and investing in new ones. Our sport sponsorships are now more in line with the support we continue to provide to local community events. In Scotland, we take pride in our long-standing sponsorships of the Royal Highland Show and the Edinburgh Royal Military Tattoo - both part of the cultural fabric of our home nation. We also support the Edinburgh International Book Festival, the National Museum of Scotland, and EveryWoman, the UK's leading enterprise association for women.
Sponsorship has always been an effective way to tell people about RBS and strengthen relationships with key clients. That fact isn't changing, but we are.
Find out more about our sponsorship activity.