Holden’s advertising jingle from the 1970s – football, meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars – is poised to come to life again.
Holden has snatched NRL rugby league sponsorship from market leader Toyota – which sponsored the code from 2008 to 2012 – giving it naming rights to the State of Origin series, the Kangaroos national squad and the Under 20s competition.
The three-year multi-million-dollar deal announced today is Holden’s first football sponsorship in 15 years and believed to be worth more than twice as much as the car maker spends on V8 Supercars.
Holden is understood to have spent $10 million over three years to become the official automotive partner of the NRL, compared to an estimated $20 million spent by Toyota to sponsor the AFL in its latest three-year 2012-to-2014 deal.
The NRL sponsorship deal comes in Holden’s most important year in decades. A new Commodore is unveiled next week before the model bows out in late 2016 after a 38-year run, outlasting the Kingswood's 20-year reign.
Holden posted its lowest sales in 19 years in last year’s all-time record new-car market, but the company has vowed to fight back against the scrum of imported competition. “This sponsorship is the strongest indication yet that Holden is back, bigger and better than before,” chairman and managing director of Holden Mike Devereux said.
“We are very excited about this partnership. It’s exactly what the Holden brand needs to cement our success this year, and into the future.” Holden used the NRL sponsorship announcement to repeat its commitment to manufacturing cars in Australia until 2022, while rival Ford has to date not commented on its future beyond 2016.
“Over the next decade Holden is investing over a billion dollars in our Australian manufacturing future to continue making world class cars and today we have made our first move to substantially enhance our marketing by partnering with the NRL, one of Australia’s top football codes.”
At the Detroit motor show, Devereux told News Limited the company was ramping up its marketing spend – and its TV exposure – as it aims to reverse its sales slide. In 2012 State of Origin Three was the highest rated program nationally, with 4.03 million viewers, the NRL said.
“The Holden State of Origin is the jewel of Australian sport,” Devereux said. “Amazing game, millions of viewers, interstate rivalry and supreme athleticism.”
This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling