EPL advertising delivers £36M in ROI for Visit Rwanda brand

In May 2018 Arsenal signed a £30m deal with Visit Rwanda as their official Tourism Partner and first shirt sleeve sponsor.

The three-year partnership, known to be one of the biggest sleeve sponsorship deals in Premier League history, divided opinions when it was announced. Many questioned the intentions of Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, a committed Arsenal fan, in spending such money when his country is one of the poorest countries in the world.

But to Kagame’s supporters and to many in the marketing industry, it was thought of as a smart move to get people thinking about the country’s weakened tourism industry.

As part of the exciting partnership, Rwanda would gain global exposure through branding on Arsenal’s matchday LED boards, interview backdrops and at the club’s stadium tour which attracts more than 250,000 visitors each year. There would also be the opportunity to engage with Arsenal fans around the world through the club’s social media channels.

So one year in and the results on how the partnership is shaping up are out…

The Rwanda Development Board (RDB) has said the country has already recouped the £30 million investment, based on analytics provided by sports research and consulting firm Nielsen, social media and sponsorship measurement provider Blinkfire Analytics and research agency Hall and Partners.

Belise Kariza, the RDB chief tourism officer, said: “Before the signing of the partnership, 71 per cent of the millions of Arsenal fans globally did not think of Rwanda as a tourist destination, at the end of the first year of the partnership half of Arsenal fans would consider Rwanda as a destination to visit.

“In terms of overall value, the partnership so far, in year one, is worth £36 million or over Rwf36 billion. This number is based on TV viewership and social media.

“We can definitely say it has paid off.”

Kariza went on to add that the agreement factored into the 1.7 million people tourists that visited Rwanda in 2018 thanks to the brand exposure Arsenal gave to Visit Rwanda. She also said that the content created to promote the country as a holiday destination, aided by a tie-up with National Geographic, had seen at least 4.3 million interactions over social media and other activations.

Furthermore, Visit Rwanda’s YouTube channel saw a 100 percent increase in subscribers, while the brand’s Twitter and Instagram followings enjoyed a boost of 72 per cent and 577 per cent respectively off the back of the deal.

Kariza added: “I think really on the visibility it is paying off. It is also paying off in terms of people visiting from the UK. In 2018 we had a five per cent increase in visitors from the UK market only.”

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