Sponsorship Insider

Sports sponsorship rights intelligence

Admiral: Staff engagement main focus for Welsh brand

3 Feb 2017

UK insurance company Admiral has been the main shirt sponsor of the Welsh national rugby team since 2010. Its main focus in sponsorship is to increase employee engagement and celebrate the Welsh origins of the company.



  • Sports: Rugby union
  • Key markets: UK
  • What’s important: Employee engagement, raising profile as a good employer
  • Decision-making: Chief executive signs off large investments

Admiral focuses its sponsorship activity on staff engagement rather than branding, James Carnduff, UK head of communications told Sport Sponsorship Insider.

Staff engagement has been Admiral's main objective since it took over the Welsh national team’s main shirt sponsorship at the start of the 2010-11 season. The initial deal with the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU), the governing body for the sport in Wales, was for three-years, from 2010-11 to 2012-13. This deal was extended for two years in 2013-14 and again for two years in 2015-16.

Admiral took over from the Welsh beer brand Brains which held the rights from 2004 to 2010.

Employee satisfaction

Founded in Cardiff by American businessman Henry Engelhardt in 1990, Admiral is the only FTSE 100 company based in Wales.

The brand has featured consistently in The Sunday Times newspaper's Best 100 Companies to work for list, ranking sixth in 2016. Admiral is the only company to have been named on the list every year since 2001.

Admiral runs a share scheme where every employee receives free shares each year. At the end of 2016, the annual bonus reward given to employees was £3,600 (€4,100/$4,492).

The Welsh rugby partnership rewards staff with “tickets, player visits and money-can’t buy experiences”. Admiral's focus is on the retention of staff. It employs over 6000 people in South Wales, where rugby is highly popular.


Activation of the sponsorship has been done through employee initiatives and benefits and, more recently, through branded videos and social media campaigns. The main activation features Include:

  • Social media content – videos celebrating the Wales team and its fans, #TheWelshAreComing and #RugbyRinger


  • Festival of Rugby –  children from WRU member clubs train at the WRU National Centre of Excellence. Training kit for the teams is provided by the Admiral Community Chest scheme, a fund run for staff and their families involved with local charities, organisations and sports clubs. During 2016, there were 248 recipients of funds, included 120 football and rugby teams, 19 schools and nurseries and a variety of other clubs, societies and charities.


  • Press conference activity – Admiral staff competition winners are invited to team announcement press conferences throughout the season.
  • Attendance at Wales team training – Admiral staff are invited to watch Wales training sessions.
  • Office visits – players visit the Admiral offices in Newport, Cardiff and Swansea to interact with Admiral staff.


  • New shirt launch and drop – Admiral staff get the chance to purchase national team shirts at a discounted price before official launch. These are given out to the staff by  team players.
  • Staff parties at the Principality Stadium, the WRU’s home venue.
  • Admiral Lounge – Admiral staff have access to an Admiral lounge during the Autumn internationals.



Carnduff said Admiral has an “excellent relationship” with the WRU which is “always willing to listen to what we want to do”.

The performance of the sponsorship is primarily measured through Admiral staff surveys. Coverage of the brand’s multi-media output, including videos and social media, is also measured.

The Admiral Group operates brands overseas in Spain, Italy, France, USA, Canada and India. Admiral’s Italian car insurance brand, ConTe.it, is the title sponsor of the Serie B football league in Italy for three years, 2015-16 to 2017-18.