Case study: RHB Bank uses football to give back to the community

Long-time partnerships can run stale if new marketing strategies are not employed to refresh brand association and monetise the opportunities. This was the case for RHB Singapore, which has been sponsoring the RHB Singapore Cup, a collaboration with the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) for over a decade. In a bid to boost brand exposure and give back to the community, the bank decided to leverage FAS' experience and resources to launch more events within the football genre and

The "RHB Singapore Cup / RHB Junior Football Programme" campaign enabled RHB Singapore to become a finalist in the Excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility and Excellence in Sponsorship Activation categories for the recent 2017 Marketing Excellence Awards.

The post was done in conjunction with RHB Singapore.


RHB Singapore has been sponsoring the RHB Singapore Cup, a partnership with the FAS, since 2005. This is in-line with the group’s corporate mission to give back to the community, nurture the younger generation and to promote a healthy and active lifestyle.

As the sponsorship spans more than a decade, there is a pressing need to refresh brand association and further monetise the sponsorship and bring the partnership with the FAS to the next level. There is a limit to the reach of RHB Singapore Cup, and it is necessary to expand the target audience and create events that benefits more participants.


An expansion of brand visibility and activities via the partnership with FAS is essential to maximise the sponsorship, as well as to engage a wider pool of audience. Harnessing FAS’ experience and resources in managing football clinics for youths, the title sponsorship can be extended to the region to broaden RHB's exposure.

Nurturing future generations through football: Football, being the most popular sport across ASEAN, is the top sport to watch and read about. The game is a powerful cultural phenomenon that unites communities and is seen as a remedial force for greater good that has numerous social benefits including reinforcing collective identities, improving self-esteem, inspiring children, promoting healthy living.

In Indochina, many children may not have the opportunity to learn/play professional football with proper gear or equipment. The football clinics for children in Cambodia and Laos not only give them a chance to enjoy themselves in the sport, but also inspire them to excel in the sport as a livelihood for a better future.

The Junior Football series in Cambodia, Laos and Singapore is an extension of the long-standing partnership with FAS, and is RHB’s commitment to nurture the younger generation.


As RHB spins off more events within the football genre, it continues to stay true to its corporate mission and objectives:

  • Maximise brand exposure
  • Give back to the community
  • Nurture, engage and empower the younger generation
  • Promote a healthy and active lifestyle

RHB is committed to lifting the quality and interest of football in ASEAN, and leverage one of the region’s premier tournament to extend its branding and corporate responsibility efforts to the region as part of the group’s transformational plans.


Working closely with the FAS, RHB organised the inaugural RHB Cambodia Junior Football Cup in 2015. Progressively, the Laos edition was added in 2016, and the Singapore edition in 2017. The events are since held annually in the respective countries.

The RHB Cambodia Junior Football Cup and the RHB Laos Junior Football Cup aim to empower and inspire underprivileged Cambodian and Laotian children to overcome life’s challenges by promoting confidence, hope and pride through sports. The event is a rare experience for children who may not have access to proper playing fields, equipment and professional coaches.

The latest edition in Singapore, being an extension and continuation of the earlier series in Cambodia and Laos, goes a step further to engage not just the community and grassroots groups, but also foster a deeper relationship with clients and staff.

Cambodia (4 June 2016 and 27 May 2017)

We saw participation of close to 200 children from 16 primary schools in the capital and provinces of Cambodia. We also gathered generous sponsorship from corporations such as Cambrew (isotonic drinks), Key Real Estate (cash donation), KFC (F&B) and Manulife (insurance for the children). Together with a local sponsor and partner Key Real Estate, RHB jointly donated US$1,000 towards the purchase of sports equipment for the 16 schools.

Laos (20 August 2016 and 16 September 2017)

Close to 250 children from the capital and provinces of Lao participated in the RHB Lao Junior Football Cup, in partnership with the Laos Football Federation. The event in 2016 was attended by VIPs and representatives from RHB Laos, United Nations, Laos Football Federation and Mr Zainudin Nordin, then President of FAS. RHB pledged US$2,000 donation to United Nations.

Singapore (2 July 2017)

Participants of the RHB Singapore Junior Football Programme consists of the children of RHB’s clients and employees as well as from grassroots and community groups.

Through the programme, youths aged between 7 to 12 years old learnt football techniques from coaches of prominent football clubs in Singapore and had an opportunity to play in friendly matches. At the same time, the event provided an opportunity for RHB to show appreciation to clients and staff and deepen existing relationship by also engaging their children and family.


Client, staff and community/grassroot engagement

Rakesh Shivaiah an RHB client since 2008, said he welcomes programmes such as this. “This football clinic is indeed beneficial for my son as it teaches him proper football skills and as allows him to keep healthy and fit. We are from India, where cricket is more popular hence this football clinic exposes him to a sport where most Singaporeans are passionate about," Shivaiah said.

“The coaches are really friendly and taught us many football skills. My sister is in a different group since she is younger, and I think she also had a lot of fun like I did,” Aidan Ying, an 11-year-old participant, said.

Brand association and exposure

RHB’s brand exposure throughout the years through the RHB Singapore Cup sponsorship has increased tremendously. The RHB name is now synonymous with Singapore Cup not only locally but in the region especially in Cambodia and Laos. The RHB Singapore Cup, being the only premier regional tournament, is broadcasted live on TV in Singapore as well as some participating countries regionally. Media coverage has traditionally been healthy, and continues to be so over the years.

PR and branding opportunities 

The RHB Junior Football series provided room for RHB Banking Group to expand our CR involvement in the ASEAN countries where it has presence in, and reinforce its positioning as the only bank that is committed to developing ASEAN football. The opportunities for brand exposure through media coverage, social media stories and on-site branding were also increased.

Business opportunities 

RHB built relationships with the football associations and football clubs to get them to place deposits/take loans with the bank. The publicity from these events can also help the respective banks in terms of brand exposure and goodwill.

Contracted spend to media return of 1:7

RHB generated SG$11.2 million in sponsorship media value over the three-year agreement with FAS (totalling SG$1.5 million), according to an independent report by Nielsen Sports 2016.

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