Visit Rwanda Via Arsenal


One of the more surprising sponsorship agreements to come to fruition recently is a deal that will feature “Visit Rwanda” on the sleeve of Arsenal’s jersey while also making “Visit Rwanda” the official tourism partner of this English Premier League team. Why would the Rwanda Development Board want to be the sponsor of a team hundreds of miles away from the country?

This is an example of where jersey sleeve sponsorships can really add significant ROI for a partner. Rwanda has a considerable brand perception and awareness issue given the devastating recent history of civil war and ethnic cleansing that occurred in the 1990s. For many people, this is really the only thing they know about the country.

Yet, Rwanda is one of the best examples of the economic development that is happening throughout the African continent. As Rwanda Development Board Chief Executive Officer, Clare Akamanzi, said, “Visit Rwanda and discover why we are the second fastest growing economy in Africa.  Investors [should]…prepare to enjoy the opportunities accrued from the free trade agreements that we’ve signed with over 50 countries.”

Activating with Arsenal helps put “Visit Rwanda” in a position to achieve its goal of changing people’s narrative about the country by targeting a high number of the right people in a positive environment. According to Arsenal Chief Commercial Officer, Vinai Venkatesham, the team’s jersey is seen “35 million times a day globally and we are one of the most viewed teams around the world.”

Not only is reaching a large audience on a daily basis important, but also “Visit Rwanda” is targeting reaching a global audience as well. In addition, “Visit Rwanda” realizes that Arsenal should have a better perception to its target demographic than the country itself does right now. Associating the “Visit Rwanda” brand in an environment its audiences typically enjoy (i.e. an Arsenal game) increases the probability of seeing a perception lift.

That is exactly what “Visit Rwanda” needs to do bring foreign tourism and businesses to the country. More specifically, global tourists and companies need to know that “Visit Rwanda” is an option for them. The country also needs to change the perception of these people and organizations to encourage and promote foreign investment. A deal with Arsenal is a good start and should provide a tangible ROI for the country.

Arsenal is also being rewarded for the concept of doing well by doing good. The team is generating revenue while helping a country continue to recover from a terrible national trauma. However, this is not just a “charitable” relationship for Arsenal. The team is helping “Visit Rwanda” achieve a tangible economic goal critical to its continued development as a nation.

Both “Visit Rwanda” and Arsenal benefit from this relationship. Sports teams and partners that consider a global company / organization base can find relationships that provide tangible benefits to both buyers and sellers of sports sponsorship.