This past weekend the Premier League returned and for all football fans like me we were glued to our screens. The biggest match of the weekend was Arsenal vs Manchester City. A very interesting match and the beginning of a new era at Arsenal hence their new sleeve sponsors. The sports marketer in me had to notice ‘Visit Rwanda’. You can imagine the surprise, Rwanda a country that is not known for their sport prowess but has taken a bold step to be involved with one of the most popular sports team and brand in the world!
Apparently the sponsorship is worth 10M Pounds a year which roughly translates to 1.4B Kenyan shillings hence the biggest sleeve sponsorship in the league! Some might argue if it’s necessary to spend such a mind-blowing amount in marketing those in the marketing field know that marketing activities do not generate immediate sales or profit, it’s something that grows over time. In this case what Rwanda is getting is brand awareness and exposure to the world which eventually will lead to their tourism numbers to grow then the economy. It’s a ripple effect.
Now where is ‘Visit Kenya’? We keep complaining about the decline in the tourism sector yet we do not take bold moves to market this country to the world. Have we ever thought of using sports effectively to market Kenya? We are a country blessed with talent in different sports why not use these athletes as brand ambassadors of the country! Apart from that associate ourselves with big brands (teams) in the world? Back to the Rwanda Tourism- Arsenal deal, as part of the agreement Arsenal players both men and women teams will visit Rwanda and the club coaches will host coaching camps to support the development of the sport in the country meaning they will be getting experienced coaches who know the sport in the highest level, hey even some talented kids may get opportunities to be scouted!
According to reports the number of UK visitors to Rwanda has increased after the deal was announced. For a country known for its mountain gorilla population, with their main goal for investing in tourism being to reduce reliance on foreign aid, I think the investment is worth it! For Kenya we just need to do more for sports and tourism and if we can find a way to mash them together then we will be on another level.