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AIA explains why sponsorship strategies beat ads

Without a doubt, few categories are more active in sponsorship than financial services companies. Knattapisit Krutkrongchai, head of business strategy, AIA Hong Kong and Macau, explained why the heavy investment in sponsorship is “not just a random thing” and why it is way more effective than simply advertising.

Insurance companies have long been proactively sponsoring and engaging in sports events and initiatives. For AIA, it sponsors AIA Great European Carnival, Iron Man Experience at Disneyland Hong Kong and to name but a few.

Krutkrongchai said that the investment in sponsorship is “not just a random thing”. “We thought through and we came up with the sponsorship strategy,” he explained.

He said rather than spending the entire budget on advertisement, the insurer has shifted significant amount of money to sponsorship.

When you come across any nice ad, would you share? Would you take a photo of the nice billboard and put on your Facebook? You wouldn’t do that.

Krutkrongchai thinks advertising is still very important, but it’s just one-way communication.

Since 2015, the company has been the principal sponsor of the Oxfam Trailwalker, one of the largest fundraising sports events in Hong Kong. AIA has recently extended its sponsorship for another three years.

Participants have to complete the 100km MacLehose Trail from Sai Kung to Yuen Long divided into 10 checkpoints within a 48-hour time limit.

Krutkrongchai said when people come to the Oxfam Trailwalker, almost every participant takes pictures at every checkpoint – and no need to push them to do so at all.

He said it’s vital to have an event which creates happy memories and provides experiences that the public and customers are willing to share – going beyond just a sponsor with logos everywhere.

From a business perspective, he thinks it is a much smarter way to truly engage with people and also get the name out there to create brand equity.

He also revealed how the brand better fulfills its brand promise to encourage members to have a healthier lifestyle.

“Since the launch of AIA Vitality in 2015, we thought we needed to have some way get the public to be involved in our healthy living focus,”

He said the insurance company has scanned through many options, and even thought of organising their own event, until AIA came across Oxfam Trailwalker and realised both share similar values.

Krutkrongchai added that AIA’s strategy has evolved from CSR to CSV (creating shared values). He believes the purpose of CSR is simply doing good, but for the next stage of CSR – CSV, companies will look at a social problem and make it their mission to try to tackle it.

He said for instance, the reason why AIA is promoting healthy living is not just because of CSR, it is a shared value to them, “If our clients are healthier, and they live better lives, what would happen? We pay fewer claims – instead of paying their claims now, we can pay them later which is really beneficial for insurance company. So it’s win-win for everyone and that’s the definition of creating shared value.”

As an outdoor sports event afficionado, Krutkrongchai just returned to Hong Kong for the mountain ultramarathon Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB) through France, Italy and Switzerland.

He has joined the Oxfam Trailwalker event three times already, with his record being 15:58:57, and hopes to break his own record this year.

Knattapisit Krutkrongchai

Knattapisit Krutkrongchai

With so many charity fundraising sports events happening in Hong Kong, Brenda Wong, fundraising manager – events said the Oxfam Trailwalker is different and unique because other sports events focus on individual performance, but the Oxfam Trailwalker looks to make people better together and cross the finish line as a team.

In its 36th edition, she added that the Oxfam Trailwalker also provides a platform to get corporates, volunteers, and the community together to have a good time.

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