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first direct bank & first direct arena - Winners of the Naming Rights Sponsorship category at the 24th UK Sponsorship Awards

Posted on 05 Apr 2018

first direct bank and its sponsorship of the SMG venue the first direct arena in Leeds , entered by Nielsen Sports, was revealed as the winner of the Naming Rights Sponsorship category at the 24th UK Sponsorship Awards at the London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square on Tuesday, March 26, 2018.

The Awards, which celebrate success and best practice across all areas of sponsorship, were attended by over 500 people covering all areas or sports, music, arts and culture. The Naming Rights Sponsorship category was designed to showcase companies who make the best use of their sponsorship assets while having a very clear understanding of the impact their activations are having on their business.


The judges commented: “first direct bank had identified it needed to diversify its customer base. Also, with no branches, first direct bank recognised the need to create a physical presence. This highly-effective naming rights partnership, based near the company’s HQ in Leeds, was a natural vehicle to address these strategic challenges”
first direct work with Nielsen Sports to provide a full analysis of both the tangible and intangible benefits of the arena partnership including analysing media coverage, on-site visitation and social & digital output. Nielsen Sports also provide strategic support and advice on future growth opportunities to ensure first direct are continually developing their arena partnership.
Zoe Burns-Shore, Head of Brand and Marketing at first direct, said: “When we started the partnership in 2013, we thought it had potential to do great things for our business and become a focal point for our employees, our customers and Yorkshire. Today we see the partnership achieving this and much, much more. The award is great news for both the team at first direct bank and the arena team led by Jen Mitchell and is reward for time, effort and energy that is needed to make the partnership as successful as it is.

Jen Mitchell, General Manager of the first direct arena commented “SMG as a whole is very proud of our close relationship with first direct bank and its customers. It has always been more of a partnership between us than merely a sponsorship. The partnership has been a massive factor in propelling the arena up to 13th in the world in the Pollstar rankings establishing ourselves as one of the bestselling arena’s and firmly amongst the world’s elite. Having such a customer focussed and multiple award winning institution such as first direct bank sponsoring the arena is something SMG is incredibly proud of.


Andy Milnes, Head of Brands at Nielsen Sports, said: “The partnership between first direct bank and the first direct arena is one the best examples we see of a brand and rights holder working together in a true partnership. Their focus on engaging customers, employees and local communities creates a unique and highly successful platform that both first direct bank and the arena benefit from. Recognition in this category is just reward for the effort the team on both sides of partnership put in."