Massive increase in test sponsorship for CSA
The Willowton Group, through their Sunfoil brand, announced a massive increase in their sponsorship of cricket on Monday via a four-year deal that covers all first-class long format games, including home tests.
Sunfoil became a sponsor during troubled times for Cricket South Africa last year, stepping in to back the test series and ODIs last season when not many other corporates were interested. But with CSA's reputation almost back to its best, the sunflower cooking oil brand has increased its sponsorship to R14 million, seven times as much as the previous deal.
"A lot of people thought that we were a one-season wonder and that was part of our motivation to continue our sponsorship. We wanted to show that we were not just catching things on the cheap, we're in cricket for the long haul and it's all about giving back for us," Shoaib Moosa, the sales and marketing director of the Willowton Group, told supersport.com at the sponsorship announcement at the Wanderers on Monday.
Sunfoil will also play a major role in domestic cricket, and will sponsor both the four-day franchise competition and the three-day amateur tournament.
SuperSport have been the sponsors of the four-day tournament for 16 years, the SuperSport Series replacing the old Castle Cup in the 1996/97 season, and CSA acting chief executive Jacques Faul praised the broadcasters for not standing in the way of their wish to bundle all long-format cricket together.
"We have to thank SuperSport for allowing us to take this sponsorship to Sunfoil because we wanted to group all the long-format cricket together. SuperSport have been a wonderful supporter of South African cricket and they will continue to be our broadcasting partner," Faul said.
Brandon Foot, SuperSport’s head of acquisitions and legal said: “SuperSport is very proud to have sponsored the SuperSport Series and to have contributed to this important nursery of test match cricket. As the World of Champions steps aside from this role, SuperSport remains committed to CSA as its production and broadcast partner in all formats of the game, both domestically and internationally. SuperSport will also retain its interests in franchise and other cricket in South Africa.”
The Willowton Group also have a rich history of involvement in development cricket with their highly successful township programme in KZN being extended to Gauteng last year, while their cash for boundaries incentive in the 2011/12 tests raised R700 000 for their bursary fund, which now supports over a dozen children.
"The fruits of our involvement in cricket are seen where it matters most - at grassroots level - and hopefully we can produce some top-class cricketers from our development programme. But I will be happy even if we produce one doctor because of our bursaries and provision has been made for this programme to be expanded on a national level," Moosa said.
The Pietermaritzburg-based businessman admitted that his company's involvement with the senior national team had certainly benefited Sunfoil as well.
"Twelve months ago, if you asked the public, no particular brand of cooking oil would have come to mind. But now, the exposure and awareness and turnaround in volume of Sunfoil has been absolutely amazing and has assisted us in our goal of becoming the market-leader in South Africa," Moosa said.
The success of that initial sponsorship deal means long-format cricket now has passionate backers from the Proteas down to the amateur teams, not forgetting Sunfoil's key role at junior level as well.
Having secured yet another major vote of confidence in the way they have set about restoring the faith of corporates, Cricket South Africa are now looking for someone to take on another hugely valuable property in their twenty20 rights, both domestically and internationally, including for the Proteas team sponsor. The South African national team will provide a wonderful shop window in the ICC World T20 in Sri Lanka in September, with the normal rules being relaxed to allow sponsors' names on their shirts.