The Blue Label head office in Sandton boasts a spectacular collection of cricket, motor racing, rugby, boxing, golf, tennis and cycling memorabilia that is a prominent feature of their first two floors.
CSA announced Blue Label as the new national team sponsors for T20 cricket from Saturday’s opening match against England through to the end of the Pakistan series in March in Sandton on Thursday.
“It’s a big step for Blue Label because we haven’t really been out there that much, although we’ve been behind South African sport for a long time,” CEO and co-founder Brett Levy said. “We have no doubt that we will complement the South African cricket brand.”
While the initial sponsorship is just a short-term deal, there is no doubt there is an outstanding fit between Blue Label – the leading provider of prepaid tokens and transactions in cellular communications, electricity, water and bus tickets, in developing economies such as South Africa, India, Mexcio and Nigeria – and twenty20 cricket and a longer term involvement in the sport is likely to be announced soon.
“The deal is short-term for now, but Blue Label have the first right of renewal and I’m sure the relationship will last longer than just until the end of the Pakistan series. If it’s a good fit, maybe they can take the whole space and move into domestic T20 as well,” CSA acting chief executive Jacques Faul said.
Blue Label themselves are in no doubt that they have much more to offer South African cricket.
“We view this as a long-term partnership, not a sponsorship, for many years to come. It’s easy just to give money, but it’s difficult to build a business together. But we are a company that’s about relationships, we touch about 21 million people’s lives every month, and we share a passion for people with Cricket South Africa. They say you are known by the company you keep and we are absolutely delighted to be with CSA,” Blue Label chief technical officer David Fraser said.
“In the next six months, we want to put together a long-term relationship once we make sure it works for both parties. It’s endless what we can do together and I can see this running indefinitely into the future,” Levy added.
Blue Label are big in India through their subsidiary company Oxigen and, with the South African cricket team also being very popular in the world’s second most populous country, the partnership could bloom explosive success.
With their larney near-field communications solutions technology, Blue Label are also hoping to “create a unique customer engagement model” with CSA’s “wonderful fan base”, according to Fraser.
Unfortunately for them, the ICC World T20 is not part of the deal because the game’s governing body disallowed their involvement due to a supposed clash with cellphone giants Reliance Mobile, who Blue Label supply airtime services to in India. But the proudly South African company should soon start getting substantial exposure in the global village with their logo prominently displayed on the Proteas’ T20 shirts in all other matches.
Faul agreed that the deal was yet another vote of confidence in CSA and their steps in the right direction after the Gerald Majola bonus scandal.
“It’s a very positive sign that corporate South Africa are looking more favourably at us. We want to move on and it’s great to have fantastic brands behind us that are so big in Africa and worldwide,” Faul said.
“The past is behind us and we’re starting fresh. This is a big endorsement of Cricket South Africa,” Levy agreed.
The deal is believed to be worth in the region of 12-15 million rand, although this value could double in coming years as Blue Label assist CSA in engaging more profitably with their fans.