|The Sharks brand|
With the dawn of the professional era and the accompanying financial demands, a long-term strategy was therefore needed to build the Sharks brand into a global franchise in rugby playing countries. Although The Sharks name was formally accepted in 1995, the strategy really only began to pay dividends from 1996 with the allocation of a significant marketing and advertising budget.
Professionalism had brought with it new financial demands and the need to generate greater returns for the stakeholders. This had resulted not only in more high profile international fixtures, but also an increase in the fixtures on the domestic rugby calendar, creating an ever-increasing threat for event organizers to maintain crowd attendance.
In the light of this, the advertising strategy encompassed the promotion of the whole brand experience including the game, the facilities, the pre- and post- match activities, entertainment and the team.
With this in mind a vision was born, this vision was to develop The Sharks into the most popular global merchandise brand.
In late 1995 The Natal Rugby Union adopted the Shark as their official mascot and namesake for the team. Despite limited funds being made available at the time, to establish the brand, The Sharks have now become one of the most high profile rugby teams.
There has been a significant increase in crowd attendance and the sales of season tickets, merchandise as well as food and beverages.
The Sharks growth as a brand has received recognition not only in the rugby fraternity but also in the marketing industry with our activities acknowledged internationally as setting the trend in the new era of professional rugby.
Behind every success story there needs to be driving forces and we at the Sharks are no different. Our success story would be incomplete without us acknowledging our sponsors, supporters and various other stakeholders for their contribution and commitment.
To operate successfully in a sport, which possesses strong links to a conservative and traditionalist past, requires great courage and vision. It requires even more to adopt and pursue a strategy that was perceived by many as irresponsible and inappropriate, particularly at the time when our name change occurred.
None the less, The Sharks continue with their strategy despite being widely and often sensationally publicized in the national media. After a couple of years, the decision has not only been justifed by the economic results, it has also resulted in The Sharks being positioned as probably the leading marketers and advertisers in rugby globally.
As with all business stories, without a good product there would not be a success.
Our union is professional and led by decisive, visionary people. In the same vein our product is in some ways unique and in most ways is the best in the world or equal to it.