RBS on why it will nix its Six Nations ties: ‘We’re not the global bank we once were’

The Royal Bank of Scotland is to end its title sponsorship of the Six Nations after admitting that it is “not the global bank we once were”.

The current agreement between RBS and Six Nations Rugby runs up until the end of next year’s tournament but it will not extend due to a tighter focus on its domestic markets. That shift has led the bank to pivot its sponsorship strategy around more local properties and away from global ones, which are consequently more expensive to activate.

Speaking to The Drum, an RBS spokesperson, explained that the decision reflected the bank’s change in structure.

“We used to have a number of global sports sponsorships including Formula One but we have been moving away from that model for some time, we are not the global bank we once were.”

RBS initially became the title sponsor of the Six Nations in 2003 and renewed the partnership in 2013 with an agreement reportedly worth around £43m over four years.

David Wheldon, chief marketing officer of RBS, said the sponsorship with Six Nations had “brought tangible benefits” to the business but a new focus had prompted the changes.

“As we focus back on our home markets in the UK and Ireland, we have decided not to renew the sponsorship beyond 2017," he continued. "We are delighted to have had the opportunity to play our part in supporting the development of the Six Nations Championship into the global spectacle it is today and in supporting the strong contribution it makes to the economies in which it is rooted.”

John Feehan, chief executive of Six Nations Rugby, said: “As mutually beneficial as the relationship is, it is now time after 15 successful and fulfilling years to seek a new title sponsor to partner our great event and go forward with us into the future.”

The decision to focus on its customer facing brands could see RBS invest its sponsorship more widely across Ulster Bank and Williams and Glyn, the latter which is expected to be sold off or floated in the coming year.

Changes in the bank’s brand presence will see it axe the RBS branding completely in England and Wales and so marketing to those regions with an expensive sports sponsorship would make less sense.

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