Taking sports sponsorships to the next level

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What do life insurance and rugby have in common? On the surface, it might not seem like there are many similarities that intertwine the two, but there is one company out there taking the connection to the next level.

Earlier this summer, the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship (CRC) took place outside of Philadelphia. Through a multi-year title sponsorship, Penn Mutual has made its name synonymous with the rising sport. But why would a 170-year-old “traditional” life insurance company ever get involved with an internationally prominent sport that’s up-and-coming in America? The answer lies in a very strategic, multi-pronged approach that from a marketing standpoint, is paying dividends for the company. Take a look at how and why this sports sponsorship strategy is scoring big.

Know your audience, and understand their interests

Millennials are arguably one of the more difficult audiences for a life insurance company, and quite frankly any financial services company, to capture and stay in front of. At the same time, it’s an audience that cannot be ignored. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are over 75 million individuals that fall within the “millennial” demographic, leaving a massive opportunity for any company that is able to connect with this audience.

Penn Mutual identified rugby as quickly growing in popularity among college-aged Americans. From a brand awareness standpoint, the life insurance company saw this as a prime opportunity to “get in early” while rugby is on the rise, and align their name and brand with the sport.

Sure, the approach is not one that will lead to overnight success, but it allows Penn Mutual access to the demographic that might otherwise ignore advertisements or social media plays. Think about it – tens of thousands of millennials attend the CRC to cheer on their teams, and throughout the year, Penn Mutual dedicates many resources to other rugby initiatives, providing hundreds of thousands of potential millennials with a constant drip of brand awareness.

By identifying this millennial audience, fully ingraining the company’s brand with the sport, and remaining dedicated to a longer-term approach, the sponsorship builds valuable brand awareness to an audience that otherwise might be “untouchable” in this industry.


Another approach to this sports sponsorship allows Penn Mutual to form a powerful connection with millennials from a recruiting standpoint. The average age of a financial advisor is 51 years old, so it’s imperative that the industry attract fresh talent, especially as the industry begins to work with this generation. The rugby sponsorship not only grants Penn Mutual direct access to college students who may be interested in finance, but Penn Mutual has found that the values of rugby players directly mirror their own corporate values; they play with integrity, they’re team-oriented, and they enjoy building relationships.

So, not only does the partnership allow for strong industry recruiting, but it’s bridging a gap to a specific type of millennial that is exceptionally well positioned to thrive in insurance and finance as a career.

By aligning strategically with the sport of rugby, this life insurance company is reaping benefits much more meaningfully than had they just plastered their name on the side of a stadium, or simply recruited a professional player as a corporate sponsor. By fundamentally understanding the audience that is crucial to the future of their business, Penn Mutual is using the (otherwise standard) sports sponsorship to expand their policyholder demographics and exceed long-term corporate growth goals.