Swedbank’s CSR ‘Friendship Arena’ Naming Rights Move


The new Swedish nation stadium, which was officially opened on 14 November with a friendly football match between Sweden and England, was originally slated to be called the Swedbank Arena. But it has recently been renamed the Friends Arena after the bank prioritised its partnership with Swedish anti-bullying charity Friends over its own brand.


The giant Swedish bank donated the stadium name to the organisation as part of its ongoing, long-term youth social engagement programme.


Bank CEO Michael Wolf explains that when the bank originally signed the contract for the naming rights back in 2007 when the decision was taken to build a new national stadium, the financial institution had only recently changed its name from FöreningsSparbanken to Swedbank. Back then the old management thought the new national stadium would be a great way for the bank to promote its rebrand nationally.


The bank originally paid more than 50m Kr for the naming rights and during the planning and construction process the stadium was referred to As the Swedbank Arena. But the current management believe that everyone in Sweden knows the new name of the bank and so the landscape has changed.


Furthermore, since 2009 the bank has changed its purpose and has a different perspective on how to sponsor and how to market the bank. So by refocusing the naming rights on its relationship with the Friends anti-bullying organisation and its principle cause, the bank believes it is promoting an emotionally important issue and, in the long term, an economically important one too.


“It is now more important to manifest who we are and what we believe in. I think this will enhance the customers perceptions of the bank and will help make our society slightly safer,” says CEO Michael Wolf. “And that will benefit both society and the growth of society. So we believe it is an economically viable strategy too.”


The bank will aim to leverage this CSR naming rights initiative through at stadium events and initiatives, as well as advertising, experiences and media impressions.


“For us at Swedbank, it is important to take responsibility for the future – our youth – and at the same time make a contribution to society,” comments Wolf.




An interesting and admirable tactic by Swedbank. It is one of several stand out CSR sponsorship initiatives in the football space in recent years – think of previous models such as Barcelona and UNICEF and Aston Villa and Acorns Children’s Hospice.


With the FA widely reported to be currently in negotiations for the naming rights to the most famous stadium of them all Wembley, can anyone see the English governing body and its corporate stadium sponsor going down a similar route?




Swedbank CEO Webfilm:



Friends Arena:





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