Gemba and St.George Bank have claimed their first ever win at the global Leaders Sports Awards, taking out a gong in the Sponsorship category for the St.George Footy Grants Program.
To win in this highly competitive category, campaigns needed to showcase an effective and collaborative partnership between brand and rights-holder to create a unique activation during Covid-19.
The St.George Footy Grants program was created to help everyday people achieve their footy dreams, providing funding to break down barriers and make the game more accessible to all. In its first year in 2019, the program helped 35 grassroots clubs and their communities fund a range of initiatives, including the upgrade of training equipment for a rugby league team with mental and physical disabilities, as well as subsidising player registrations for low-income families at a grassroots Australian Rules footy club.
Following the initial success of the St.George Footy Grants program, we again opened up the program for Season 2020. But within a fortnight of the campaign going live, COVID-19 struck; professional and community sport was thrown into disarray and community sports clubs across Australia were facing an uncertain future.
With the support of St.George’s partners, Queensland Reds, St George Illawarra Dragons and GWS GIANTS, the Footy Grants program was quickly repurposed. We pivoted from helping the footy community to play, to helping them to survive financially during uncertain times. St.George doubled down on their commitment, increasing available funds from $100,000 to $200,000. The sole objective became helping 30% more clubs than in the previous year. The bank wanted to fast-track their commitment to the grassroots footy community, and help the clubs hit hardest by the COVID-19 crisis.
Partner-led video content encouraging footy participants to apply for a grant ran on St.George and partner channels with a huge 3.6m reach, and over 765,000 engagements. This reach translated into action, with an average click through rate of 1.04%, 2.5 times higher than campaign benchmarks. Ultimately this led to a 50% uplift in grant applications, proving that grassroots footy clubs really did need support. Grant recipients were incredibly appreciative of the assistance, telling us “It’s going to go a long way to paying bills” and “I can’t begin to explain how much this is will help”.
Grassroots sport is the lifeblood of communities around Australia. Footy clubs enable people to come together and find a sense of purpose and belonging. As a result of COVID-19, many grassroots footy clubs have lost sponsors, volunteers and participants, and are facing uncertainty around future funding. Staying afloat financially is an enormous challenge. In providing financial support to over 50 grassroots clubs around Australia, St.George and their partners are helping secure the future of local sport, and that of the communities they serve.