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Aon and sport - it's not just about Manchester United...


The Discover Risk team caught up with Grahame Chilton, Chair of Aon Benfield, to find out about sponsorship beyond Manchester United Football Club.

How long has Aon been a sports sponsor?

Prior to the Manchester United sponsorship, Aon had made nearly 450 acquisitions in over 20 years which, along with substantial organic growth, had raised it to the position of global number one in all of its core business in terms of revenue. Despite this level of achievement, Aon was not a top 500 global brand, and this was something that we felt we needed to change. So, in order to increase brand recognition in a globally co-ordinated manner, we decided to sponsor Manchester United, McLaren, and to launch Team Aon.

The Manchester United sponsorship is one of the best known in world sport. Has Aon brand recognition changed?

We feel it is still early days but we have already seen clear and distinct revenue that is being generated by programmes associated with Manchester United, and higher retention rates with clients to whom we bring Manchester United-related programmes. The club's global penetration is truly incredible - over 333 million fans, 60 million Man United web page impressions per month, and the fastest-growing Facebook page with approximately one million new members joining each month. It also has unrivalled brand awareness of 100% in UK, Germany, and Korea; 90% in China; and 80% in Japan and India, which in turn increases Aon's own brand recognition in parts of the world where demand for risk solutions is growing.

To complement the Man U sponsorship, and to increase the recognition of the Aon brand across a different sports audience, we also sponsor the McLaren motor racing team and have developed Team Aon, which has helped further raise awareness of our brand worldwide. Team Aon have a Twitter account @TeamAon.

These sponsorship initiatives encourage employee engagement and promote the success of the company. We believe that many people will recognise Aon as a company that can 'get things done' for clients and colleagues due to its partnership with such winning sports teams.

What other projects do Aon support, and why?

Currently, we feel that the sponsorship of Manchester United, McLaren, and Team Aon is sufficient. In terms of value and return on investment, it is the quality of each sponsorship initiative rather than the number of initiatives that counts.

While we are not seeking to sponsor any further major sports at the moment, we are continuously supporting local community projects that range from replacing electrical fittings at a charity shop to painting the music room at children's hospice. Our colleagues are actively involved in community projects like this around the world.

Professionalism is important to Aon and the insurance profession. What makes the consummate professional?

It is very important to develop skill sets which enable you to listen to your client, and which consequently allow you to look after your client in the best way that you can. In addition, I think it is imperative that you are constantly learning, no matter what stage you are in your career. Quite often, if I am at Lloyd's waiting to place a risk, and there is a long queue, I will visit the Lloyd's Library to ensure I am keeping up to date with sector news. If you are constantly learning it enables you to run a more successful business.

We offer internal training to our employees, or colleagues as we like to call them, and we do this to encourage the development of real talent within Aon. In a nutshell, I think the most professional people are those who have the people skills to develop an exceptional service, along with the motivation to continually learn.

Aon has a graduate scheme - does it have anything for school leavers?

We offer work experience, and for those who show potential, we often take this further and provide employment opportunities for those who have impressed. To find out more about Aon click here.

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