Global Partner: SLI’s Ryder Cup ‘World Class’ Brand Positioning

2014 saw Standard Life Investments become the Ryder Cup’s first ever (and only) worldwide partner and it made the most of its unique status with multiple activations before, during and after the event to project and consolidate its desired ‘World Class’ positioning.


Standard Life’s integrated campaign was hubbed around a comprehensive, bespoke website dedicated to the Ryder Cup at http://www.standardlifeinvestments.com/rydercup/.


This hosted a range of content, including exclusive videos and imagery, covering everything from the history of the event, to insider perspectives from the brand’s event ambassadors as well as social media content.


This included an interesting online film series called ‘World Class Ryder Cup Decisions’:





Using the hashtag #SLIexperience, the financial sponsor incentivised fans to submit and share ‘support selfies’ showing their passion for their team with the lure of a weekend at Gleneagles.


Whilst at the event itself, in tandem with agencies Provision Events and We Few, Standard Life ran twin brand experiences at Gleneagles itself and at the Ryder Cup dedicated fan zone in Edinburgh city centre.


The global partner offered visitors a chance to win a to be part of their own Ryder Cup team  with a trip into their favourite team’s locker room (something of a secretive tactical and social sanctuary) and offering participants choosing either Team USA or Team Europe to play through the 18th hole at Gleneagles.


The initiative began in the locker room, where the Ryder Cup vice captains brief and inspire visitors, followed by a simulated 18th drive, approach shot to the green and then finally giving golf fans a chance to sink a putt on a scale model of the 18th hole to win the Ryder Cup.


The worldwide partner also ran a major international advertising campaign connecting its brand positioning to the values of the event itself.


The creative treatment, which combined bold messaging and dynamic visuals, was distributed across a variety of impactful and innovative media platforms and channels and one particularly interesting element was its dramatic outdoor/indoor airports campaign.


This immersive advertising campaign strand, developed with JCDecaux Airport and planned and executed by Talon and Ptarmigan, promoted the sponsorship with a series of outdoor media firsts at both Edinburgh Airport and Heathrow Airport – the two key Ryder Cup 2014 gateways.


This included wraps, billboards, banners and digital media solutions aimed at promoting Standard Life Investments as ‘World Class’ brand.


Some off the stand out executions included a massive banner the front of Edinburgh’s terminal building and car park, plus special builds at Heathrow incorporated into the interior and exterior out-of-home landscape.


‘[Our aim was to] deliver a world class iconic Airport campaign that delivers memorability and domination across the key pinch points of the Ryder Cup passenger journey; ensuring front of mind communication with first to market media solutions,’ explains Talon Business Director Clare Passfield.


On TV, the financial giant ran a media partnership with broadcaster Sky Sports which saw its 15-second idents spots open and close the day’s coverage.


Sky Ryder Cup 15sec 1024×576 19Mbps


While Sky TV itself, the exclusive Ryder Cup broadcaster, created its own #BringTheNoise hashtag and used a remixed Public Enemy track of the same name for its promotional film.





This multi-channel and multi-strand, layered campaign is a good example of how to approach an international event (with a strong regional bias) that is also something of a rarity through a lengthy programme that peaks at the event.


Standard Life, like most of the Ryder Cup’s other blue-chip sponsors – which include premium brands like BMW and Rolex –  certainly seems to have taken on board the belief that golf partnership is no longer simply about a media buy and a VIP B2B hospitality programme.


Another interesting trend at the Ryder Cup is how heavily former golfers are used by sponsors.


Ryder Cup event sponsor brands actually have few rights to the current star players, who have their own existing endorsement deals and ambassador contracts, one common strategy is to use former players and captains in the campaigns.


This is well illustrated by Standard Life’s activation approach.


The five official partners of the 2014 Ryder Cup – BMW, Diageo, Rolex, EY and Standard Life Investments – are reported to have paid between £1.5m and £2m for their rights packages.




SLI Ryder Cup Website



SLI YouTube



SLI Twitter



SLI Global Website



Ryder Cup 2014



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