THE SBS Bank has jumped back on board with the Southland Stags.
The Invercargill-based bank generated some angst within Southland circles in 2013 when it announced it would sponsor the Canterbury rugby team.
As a result the SBS Bank’s brand was plastered across the front of the red-and-black Canterbury jersey as the team’s principle sponsor in the Mitre 10 Cup.
It generated calls from some in Southland for the bank to instead throw that support behind a struggling Stags outfit.
About 30% of the SBS members are based in Southland.
After five years with the Canterbury Rugby Union, SBS Bank chief executive Shaun Drylie announced this week the organisation would now turn its focus to sponsoring the Stags for the next three years.
SBS declined to reveal just how much the sponsorship was worth for the Stags, saying those details were commercially sensitive.
In a recent interview with the Southland Express, Mr Drylie said the bank was keen to “win back the village’ in Southland.
“It’s been something I’ve been conscious of in my time, is to strengthen our Southland identity.
“We’ve been really successful outside of Southland, but we can’t lose sight of where we’ve come from.
“That’s what we are doing in investing in some of the sponsorships that are a little bit more Southland based.
“We want to keep that Southland component going, but we are a nationwide bank as well. People here can think it’s the little old Southland Building Society, but we’ve got branches all around the country. We’ve got a lot of business elsewhere.
“The Southland Building Society is so well known [in Southland], in some of the other regions it was not so well known.
“We were with Canterbury [Rugby Union] for five years and that was to say, ‘actually, we are going to put our names on the Canterbury jerseys to say we are committed to Canterbury’.”
SBS is also the naming rights sponsor for the Tour of Southland cycle race, as well as a sponsor of the Southland Sharks basketball team.
Mr Drylie said it spent about $300,000 on sponsorship in Southland during the past year, but pointed to the $25 million it spent on wages for the 300 staff in Southland as its biggest contribution to the region.
As part of the partnership with Rugby Southland, SBS is offering children a free season pass to all Stags home games once they open an account with SBS Bank.