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Bluewater is planning to sell the naming rights to its new events venue. Will any other malls be brave enough to follow suit?

Leisure venues have been selling naming rights in the UK and

abroad for years. London’s 02 – the millennium dome – the former Carling Academy – now also 02 – and the Cardiff International Arena (which has recently re-branded as Motorpoint Arena Cardiff after a reported seven-figure sum changed hands to secure the name for the next five years) are just a few examples along with Berlin’s Sony Centre where the anchor creates inspiration for the brand and brings in similar tenants. On the retail side of things, a similar naming rights programme is likely to be available at Ravenscraig – a new town under construction in North Lanarkshire, Scotland, which will include 900,000-sq ft of retail and leisure space. There management are working closely with retailers and

encouraging them to sponsor areas, having them named after the brand, Avon Mall, for example, instead of being physically in the centre, something which Fiona Hamilton, partner at King Sturge described as “groundbreaking.” “It’s very interesting in terms of commercialisation for shopping

centres and it’s something I think we’re going to see more of,” says Hamilton. “In places like the States, retailers are connecting together in this

way and it helps to set aspirations for the brand, setting a tone to express a certain area. There could be a Coca Cola seating area, or even a MotherCare baby changing unit.” And, according to Hamilton, there’s no major downside, although

to open at Europe’s leading retail, leisure and events destination late 2011. Directly accessed from inside Bluewater, the 55,000-sq ft Events


Venue will span two floors and has been specially designed to play host to a series of experiential events including lifestyle, fashion and live shows appealing to a wide audience. Expected to be a ‘new breed’ of event space, the naming rights

for the venue are being described as a ‘significant opportunity’ for consumer brands that would ‘benefit greatly’ from a partnership with The Event Venue. Specialist sponsorship consultancy Generate has been appointed

to work with The Events Venue in progressing this opportunity, utilising its strong presence within this specialised field to secure a mutually beneficial partnership. “We are extremely excited to take this unique opportunity to the

market,” says Simon Donaldson, head of commercial partnerships at Lend Lease. “The range of options within the naming rights partnership presents an innovative opportunity for the right brand to be associated with this new events venue, which is integrated into the already highly successful destination Bluewater.”


she acknowledges possible conflicts of interest. “One possible downside is for retailers in direct competition

lobal property group, Lend Lease, has announced an exclusive naming rights opportunity for The Events Venue at Bluewater, a unique £60m events and exhibition space due

with the chosen name,” she says. “You could argue that that might put off brands but actually it works a bit like – same- category retailers often benefit from being grouped together because if a shopper goes into one store, they’re likely to check out similar products in another. “Any retailers that are good shouldn’t worry. It’s like anything, you

have to be yourself. I don’t think retailers would be put off if they found themselves in an Apple mall. Apple is Apple and Nike is Nike.” And the brands don’t have to be aspirational. According to

Hamilton, mainstream brands like Boots and Superdurg could work just as well. “It’s esoteric and it makes sense when we think about multi-

channel. Some places I’ve visited like the Middle East have areas sponsored by brands that might not necessarily be represented in the mall. It’s an avenue for a brand to get their messages across – they’re saying ‘this is who we are, if you want to buy our products, go online.’ “It’s something we need to start thinking about,” she concludes.

“There are plenty of opportunities for the future of commercialisation – naming rights is one of them.”

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