IBB: Increasing the popularity of volleyball in Great Britain

Sports sponsorship is an unconventional form of promoting a company. IBB Polish Building Wholesale is the Head Sponsor of the current English champions of volleyball IBB Polonia London. The President of the company, Jacek Ambrozy reveals some of the secrets behind the relationship between the two organisations.

How long have you been working with Polonia London, and how much longer do you think you will work together?

We made our first contact three years ago, if my memory serves me correctly. Currently IBB is the Head Sponsor and we have recently signed a five year contract with the Club.

How did it all start? What persuaded you to support the team?

Everything started with a few of the fans, who are our customers; builders in actual fact. They approached me asking if I would be prepared to buy them some equipment to help. Seeing that they spoke with such excitement and passion, and I really like people like that, I decided that my support could really help them. That was the moment that my contact with volleyball began in this country. In the following year, the President of Polonia Volleyball Club approached me with a sponsorship proposal and I decided to take up the offer. One of the deciding factors was the enthusiasm of the people belonging to the club who were going above and beyond their responsibilities within the Club. I liked the idea of doing something aiming for success, of doing something with the same passion and intrinsic motivation without any form of reward. I was impressed with these emotions and wanted to help them to achieve these successes.

Did you consider other ways of helping, other than becoming the Head Sponsor?

I didn’t think about any other ideas. From the very start I knew that if I was going to become involved at all, I wanted the honour of being Head Sponsor. I really like what the guys are doing and their general approach. The best sportspeople aim for the best results, and I see this in the players of Polonia London. I consider them as equals to engineers, teachers or lecturers, because I know how hard they work and how much personal sacrifice is involved to reach their aims.

Does IBB support other sports?

We support a total of three ball sports. They are tennis, volleyball and football. We are strategic in this and are not currently considering other projects. In the future we would like to support individuals with special needs who are not quite so physically able.

What benefits does the company get from these relationships?

Thanks to this work, the company gets business benefits. Marketing in the form of press exposure or radio presence is slowly becoming less beneficial. It is much more cost effective, in my opinion, to become involved in supporting the work of others.

In the last season, IBB Polonia London was extremely successful. The team won everything in Great Britain and now will compete in a European competition. It looks like IBB assessed the potential of the club accurately before it became involved.

I enjoy supporting ambitious sportspeople. Achieving good results gives great satisfaction and personal enjoyment. It also is beneficial from a business point of view. This is exactly what we have experienced. Following our initial involvement, the team achieved some very good results, and as I said, is currently competing internationally. We are delighted that they have managed to do this. In this day and age, just wanting to play international competitions isn’t enough. Financial backing is crucial and this is where IBB have helped.

Does the company engage with sponsorship in a complex manner and does it get involved with the running of the Club?

There is no sense in approaching this in any other way. We are constantly engaged with the club. In fact everything we have discussed here has been by mutual consent. As a sponsor, not only are we concerned with financial support, but we try to be involved in other ways. We have helped develop the marketing of the Club. We suggested a portfolio of merchandise for the fans, we also have a regular magazine for our customers called ‘Builder’ and there are updates about the Club in there. There are also large sections of information on our website about the Club news. You will see that the Club appears everywhere.

What is the relationship like between the Club and IBB? Do you treat them as students from a business perspective?

We have a partnership. Members from the Club and IBB are constantly in contact. This has resulted from the initial aims of us forming our partnership and for us deciding on sponsorship. We try to take part and be present during matches, to talk with the players, coaches and members of the Club. As a company, we function well in the marketplace and often talk about the Club during meetings. From these discussions arose the idea of merchandising.

Is the popularity of the Club increasing?

We are constantly looking for ideas that will increase exposure. We would like to increase the level of interest of companies like Eurosport; volleyball in England is in its infancy. One of our aims is to increase the popularity of the sport in the UK. The potential is there to see in Poland where volleyball is loved by all. We see similarities in Britain where sport in general is also followed passionately by many. We need to increase volleyball’s popularity here.

So what can be done to encourage other sponsors to invest in volleyball?

We have, together with the Club President, worked on a plan to find new sponsors. We understand the notion of ‘the more the merrier’.

What does the relationship with other Polonia sponsors look like?

IBB is very happy to work with the other sponsors. We are eager to meet and discuss ideas together. In one of the issues of „Builder” magazine, we thanked all of the other sponsors (naming them individually) for supporting the Club. I have no objections to encouraging them, promoting them and enticing new sponsors in joining us. We are even open to resigning from the Head sponsor position, if a new company wishes to beat our current package. We know how much we help the Club and are aware that finding our successor may be difficult. Our philosophy is for the good of the Club and its development.