Skoda Australia says it has a lot in common with the Greater Western Sydney AFL team, which is currently languishing in second last place on the ladder.
The local arm of the Czech brand is the major sponsor of the fledgling team and also the naming sponsor of the Giants’ home ground in Sydney. The sponsorship is a key part of Skoda’s Australian push, which will take a huge step next year when it introduces two key new models.
Car Advice asked Skoda Australia director Matthew Wiesner whether it was a good thing to be associated with a team that has only won a single game so far this season and is regularly thumped by opposition clubs (it lost to North Melbourne by 129 points in April).
Wiesner says Skoda is more than happy with the team’s progress, adding that it is in a very similar situation to Skoda, which has grown slowly since being introduced in Australia in late 2007.
“People are more focusing on how they are evolving, which is almost exactly like us,” he says.
“We are not expected to go and sell 1000 cars a month, but we will one day.”
VFACTS figures show Skoda has sold 1448 cars during the first five months of this year, which is a massive increase on the 700 cars in had sold during the same period last year and comes largely on the back of the addition of the Yeti SUV and Fabia light car.
Wiesner is looking forward to the Giants winning more games in the future, but says Skoda is happy with the way it has progressed despite having only recording one victory so far this season.
“Their losing is not the discussion, we are just so impressed with the way they are developing,” he says.
“Performance wise, the things we saw that were important were their development and that they are competitive and they have a go,” he says.
Skoda's 17th-placed Giants will take on 16th-placed Melbourne this weekend, with the Demons' new sponsor, fellow European brand Opel, set to launch in September around the end of the regular AFL season.
Skoda signed a three-year lead sponsorship deal with the Giants back in late 2010, more than a year before it played its first game.
It is one of 10 car makers to sponsor AFL teams, including Ford, which has sponsored Geelong since 1925.
Skoda is happy to align itself with Asia Pacific Rally Championship driver, Chris Atkinson, who is leading the title chase in a team MRF Skoda Fabia rally car but has ruled out getting involved in the Australian Rally Championship.
“Chris has a connection driving the MRF car, so that now we have Fabia RS we have a connection to that,” he says.
“Are we going to push ourselves into it? No, I think there is enough positive noise coming out of Europe and Asia.”
Skoda Australia will instead continue with its focus on AFL and major cycling events.
Car brands that sponsor AFL teams:
Toyota – Adelaide. (West Coast second tier sponsor)
Lexus – Collingwood (second tier sponsor)
Jeep – Richmond
Ford – Geelong
Mazda – North Melbourne
Skoda – Greater Western Sydney
Hyundai – Carlton. (Brisbane, Fremantle second tier sponsor)
Volkswagen – Sydney (second tier sponsor)
Opel – Melbourne
Kia – Essendon