11 Sep

Cricket Australia (CA) has extended and expanded its long-running sponsorship agreement with fast-food restaurant chain KFC, covering naming rights to the Big Bash League (BBL) and new rights around women’s cricket.

KFC will continue as title sponsor of the BBL, a position the brand has held since the T20 league started in 2011-12. KFC has acquired new rights around the Women’s Big Bash League and women’s national team matches.

There were reports in August that rival fast food chain McDonald’s attempted to take over KFC’s deal with a higher offer, but was rejected by CA. McDonald’s was reported by the Sydney Morning Herald to be offering A$10m ($7.29m) per year, compared to A$8m ($5.83m) a year on offer from KFC.

“KFC is a longstanding partner of ours and loyalty is important to us during times like this,” a CA spokesperson told the Herald.

CA has been battling financial problems brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, reducing budgets and cutting jobs and salaries. 

Welcoming the new KFC deal, Kristi Woolrych, the compnay’s South Pacific chief marketing officer, said, “The KFC BBL has come a long way in the past decade and given the fun, and free-spirited nature of the game, KFC and the BBL are the perfect match.”

Alistair Dobson, CA head of Big Bash Leagues, said, “The partnership between KFC and the BBL has been built on shared objectives of bringing fun to families across Australia, and together we’ve formed a winning combination over the past decade.”

Referring to aspects of KFC’s activation in recent years, he added, “Whether it be collecting a colourful Buckethead or attempting to catch a Bucketball free hit in the crowd, the fan-first initiatives developed alongside KFC form a crucial part of the BBL’s identity.”

The Buckethead campaign involved special KFC meal buckets that could double up as hats for fans attending games.

CA last week secured a sponsorship fee increase in a new deal with Vodafone for rights around men’s test matches, women’s national team matches and the WBBL.

Meanwhile, the board is facing tough talks with its domestic media rights partner Seven, the free-to-air broadcaster, which has threatened to terminate its contract over its handling of the Covid-19 impact on the upcoming summer cricket schedule. CA is spending heavily on bio-security measures to ensure the summer season goes ahead.

John Stephenson


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