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The Power of Sustainable Sponsorship in Sport

By Thomas Hal Robson-Kanu

In the three years since we launched The Turmeric Co., my ambition has always been to bring a product to market that is both good for the body and mind but also supports the environment by offering our customers a sustainable source of nutrition.

As a professional athlete, I have made every effort to take good care of my health. However, that doesn’t mean I haven’t had to overcome challenges or been forced to adapt my diet and training regime along the way. At the age of 17, as an Arsenal schoolboy, injury came close to derailing my dream of becoming a top-level footballer.

That was roughly two decades before my father and I set up The Turmeric Co., from his home in west London, though it was those low points during my recovery from career-threatening injury that forced me to investigate alternative recovery methods during the early stages of my career and when I first discovered the power of turmeric.

Since then, I was quick to adopt turmeric into my diet having learnt of its benefits to the immune system and my general fitness. It has been a huge driver behind my desire to build The Turmeric Co. community – a vegan, plant-based recovery shot that puts people and the planet first.

Every brand has its own inception story. Much like other drinks companies, I am passionate and proud of our journey so far and where we’re going. In response to global demand for sustainable consumer products, I believe wholeheartedly that the way brands like ours market themselves will ultimately have a huge influence on how quickly the world reacts to the climate crisis and other important social issues.

If we take football by way of an example, although the game has moved on a long way since the early days of pitch-side branding and rudimentary shirt sponsorship contracts, I believe that sport has a lot more to give when it comes to how we connect with fans around important topics beyond the game.

Sport carries huge responsibility and a massive opportunity to educate future generations of football supporters with the use of direct-to-consumer (DTC) communications technologies and by integrating its existing and future partnership into its digital media strategies.

Make no bones about it, advocacy for our brand is top of the agenda. And that doesn’t only mean the effectiveness of our shots on the athlete’s training programme, but also how said athletes align their image and the brands they associate with to their own core values. I firmly believe more emerging startups like The Turmeric Co. have an opportunity to thrive and survive in this space.

The world is changing. If we weren’t seeing these trends before the beginning of the pandemic, then Covid-19 has certainly had a dramatic effect on our personal choices over the past 18 months, including the way we think about the food we eat, the products we buy, and how our individual activities impact the planet.

This is my one true hope for The Turmeric Co. as we continue to grow in the coming months and years – to provide genuine value to the health and wellbeing of our customers, while also moving the dial around the way companies carry out business in light of global issues such as the climate crisis and empower people to look at their place in the world. ​

While we don’t treat our customers as consumers per se, it is important to treat the general public with the same level of respect as we would offer our client athletes and teams. Furthermore, it appears that the pandemic has led many of our competitors to start thinking about the bigger picture in much the same way that we do at The Turmeric Co. and to promote good health and sustainable living among its followers.

As we continue to grow our portfolio of client athletes and sporting teams here in the UK, conversation around brand advocacy is changing in the boardroom too. If I look back over our journey throughout the pandemic, we have signed up to several professional football teams showing the same vision.

What this also demonstrates is the power of sport to influence its partner stakeholders to adopt emissions and diversity goals into their own roadmap. It is clear to me that they are taking this conversation seriously and are beginning to see the true value of social enterprise in growing fan loyalty.

Just as we put customer wellbeing front and centre of our conversation, this I hope will have a positive impact on how big business carries itself going forward and reacts accordingly to the growing consumer demand for purpose-driven suppliers.

Thomas Hal Robson-Kanu is founder of The Turmeric Co. which partners with professional sports teams, NGBs and elite athletes to enhance their recovery and holistic health with its naturally produced shots.

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