Since the sport went professional and the KwaZulu-Natal Rugby Union adopted The Sharks as a brand name for their team, The Sharks have, over the past decade, evolved from a provincial rugby brand to a commercially recognised sporting brand of international acclaim, promoting an intrinsic lifestyle value as well as fashion, entertainment and sporting aspiration. 2009 was the second consecutive year it achieved Superbrand status.
Originally nicknamed the Banana Boys, when The Sharks became the brand name in 1995, there was huge opposition to the name change. In fact, there was a lot of resentment towards the Union for some time. Now Durbanities, including fans from all over the world, are proud to call us The Sharks.
It is a sporting brand market leader - in innovation, match day activation and brand communication. There can be no better word to describe The Sharks brand essence than Sharkertainment.
Our brand is recognised all over the world and it is supported by a team that consistently plays entertaining and exciting rugby that appeals to a broad spectrum of rugby enthusiasts across the demographic, age and sex spectrum.
With the focus on the family, The Sharks provide rugby fans with wholesome entertainment in a safe, family-orientated environment. The world-famous after-party that takes place on the outerfields after every home game is unique to Durban where not just the team, but the whole brand experience is promoted.
Events throughout the year including a Ladies Breakfast, golf days and breakfasts ensure that supporters from all walks of life can have meaningful and tangible interaction with the brand and the players. In addition, interaction between players and fans - both formal and informal - takes place after the matches both home and away.
Since the name change in 1995, The Sharks brand has grown exponentially. Rugby supporters identify with the brand and are very passionate about it and the establishment of Supporters Club around South Africa translates into a significant following when the team play away from home.
Committed sponsors, stakeholders and passionate fans provide unwavering loyalty and an invaluable contribution to the success both of the team and the brand. Our “Making a Difference” campaign has been fully embraced by the Union and players and thanks to the support of our passionate fan base who attend our annual events, we are able to raise considerable funds for charities, coach rugby with underprivileged schools and do regular visits and upliftment programmes to local communities.
The Sharks Anti-Bullying Campaign was launched in 2012 with great effect, featuring TV time for the advert and school visits around the province, where the message that "Bullies are Losers" was spread by The Sharks. Development clinics were also run at some of the disadvantaged schools to help the youngsters hone their skills while giving them an opportunity to interact with the players.
Other "Making a Difference" activities include the Sharksmart programme, embracing the Drink ‘n Drive Campaign, coaching previously disadvantaged children of all ages, assisting charities to raise funds through signed merchandise and for the next two years, our charity of choice is Lungisani-Indlela, where we have selected the Amaoti Community in Veralum as the beneficiary.
Our mascot, Sharkie, is an invaluable extension of our brand as he is able to connect with fans of all ages, particularly the kids and allows children to interact with the brand in a very personal one-on-one basis.
The brand has reached significant milestones in its development and Superbrand status ensures that The Sharks will always attract enthusiastic fans to the stadium regardless of whether the team has been winning or not.
The Sharks have been blessed with some outstanding talent and over the past two years have accounted for two Springbok captains (Johann Muller & John Smit) and a number of Springbok players, 11 in 2009.
John Smit has led the Springboks to two Vodacom Tri-Nations titles (2004, 2009), the Rugby World Cup (2007) and an historic series victory over the British & Irish Lions in 2009.
The success of the brand is further justified through the commercial and emotional values of this brand which have seen it become one of the most famous rugby brands in the world. Branded merchandise has taken a secondary role to fashion apparel sales which has grown by over 400% in the past three years, an incredible achievement in tough economic times.
The Sharks brand is so much more than just 80 minutes of rugby on a Saturday afternoon, promoting hero status for players and role models for the youth. Not only do The Sharks feature prominently across the broader international media (TV, Magazine, Newspaper, Radio, Web) but we have our own monthly TV Show, Sharkbite, a 10 edition magazine plus a well established website: sharksrugby.co.za, which is rated in the top 21 in the world.
The last few years have been newsworthy and successful in a number of ways, having won the Absa Currie Cup in 2008 and 2010 and contributed a record number of players selected for the Springboks – the largest number from any union in the country. Other occasions worth celebrating were the fact that Sharkbite and The Sharks magazine both enjoyed their 10th birthdays in 2009 while we managed to have our rugby jersey launched into space when the Discovery Space Shuttle carried out a 13-day mission to the International Space Station in September.
The Sharks consistently maintain arguably the most comprehensive marketing programme in the country with a broad programme of communication with the support base, mass communication through a consistent media campaign which embraces partnerships with local press and radio and an inviting, interactive programme of engagement at every match day.
The official home of The Sharks is KINGS PARK.