End of an era: 10yrs of Raiders sponsorship comes to an end.

After ten years, Huawei’s official sponsorship of the Canberra Raiders comes to an end. But this has been far more than a corporate sponsorship. It has developed into a partnership with shared values that went far beyond the signed contract and set of deliverables.

Becoming the major sponsor of the Canberra Raiders was the first sporting sponsorship the company took anywhere in the world. It was a first step that lead Huawei to sponsor some of the biggest names in sport across the globe (including Arsenal & Borussia Dortmund). Not long after we first signed with the Raiders, our CEO & founder Ren Zhengfei was in Australia, and we organised for him to meet the team. Unfortunately, he couldn’t attend a game. I was apprehensive about how this will all translate. This was such new territory for us all. After arriving from China, he checked into his hotel and flicked on the TV. Sure enough, the Canberra Raiders popped up playing the Penrith Panthers; he quickly rang the CEO asking, why am I seeing our logo on the TV? Our CEO explained this was the team and sport we sponsored, and he was meeting them later that week. Thankfully, the Raiders won, the papers were full of coverage the next day, and no translation was needed. It was the highlight of the trip.

We brought in an annual initiative to move our logo from the front of the jersey and give that space to a charity during the partnership. This was always done when the games were televised on free to air. Over the years, we partnered with great organisations like Blackdog, Deaf Australia, Autism Australia, Tour de Cure and of course, the Ricky Stewart Foundation. It raised not only awareness but also raised money for the charity by auctioning the jerseys.

When our first three-year contract came up, and we had to renew, I enlisted a trusted friend of Ren’s, Kerry Stokes, to help give feedback on the success of our sponsorship. He was unequivocal and direct. “The best decision you have made in Australia, Canberra Raiders are a perfect team and fit for Huawei”. Given he was the major broadcast rights holder for the AFL, this was high praise indeed and a quote I used for every renewal approval.

We wish we could have gone on for another ten years. But the business situation in Australia for Huawei doesn’t enable it. While we are still here and still doing business in Australia, it is not at the levels that will allow us to have the ability to stay on as a sponsor.

This has always been more than a logo on a shirt for us. It demonstrated our commitment to Australia, enabling people to see a human face to a large unknown Chinese company. The Raiders Board, management, and playing team welcomed us like family. They stuck with us in our hard times, and we returned the favour. Whenever there was trouble, I always knew a call or text from Raiders CEO Don Furner wouldn’t be far away saying, what can we do to help.

Ricky always talks about the pride in the jersey and what that jersey represents. We always felt it was a privilege to be part of that jersey, that history. We may no longer be official sponsors, but we will always bleed green and proudly say WE ARE (still) RAIDERS.

Partnership Moments: Community Contributions

Partnership Moments: Proudly Standing Side By Side

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