Everything else.. What Can Businesses Learn from the Battle Of The Blues?

What Can Businesses Learn from the Battle Of The Blues?

2017 Mar 10

The big match season is probably the most anticipated time of year for anyone who went and goes to a government/ semi-government school. Cycle parades and various other traditions build up the already strong school spirit and adrenaline rush and the streets are filled with school colours and vehicles donning the school flags. All in all, the big matches are actually a very momentous part of our Lankan lives, regardless of whether you actually went to those schools or not.

There are just mere a handful of Sri Lankan companies that have been in existence for over a century. However, for 138 consecutive years the Royal-Thomian big match has been played, including through two world wars!  

Usually, it’s the notion of the love of sports and love for their Alma mater that sparks the interest among the people to actually be apart of this great annual event. On that note, MTI Consulting put some thought into how and what businesses and brands can learn from the experience of the Royal-Thomian matches. 


What can Businesses and Organizations Learn?

  • The ‘power’ of two competing ‘brands’ synergizing to create an experience much ‘larger’ than either could. Even if businesses cannot stretch their thinking to synergizing with competing brands, start with complimentary brands.
  • The ‘power’ of tradition (as part of the organizational DNA) – that delivers far more than following a process manual.
  • The ‘power’ of alumni affinity and volunteering – that ensures effective project management involving a multitude of diverse stakeholders.
  • The ‘power’ of teaming – with no hierarchical organizational structures and associated bureaucracies.


How can these learnings be applied to Brands?

Talk to someone in their mid to late twenties and they will hail the concept of Social Networking (well, duh! I mean have you heard the moms yelling about how we never stop tapping away at our phones?!?!) and tout that the likes of Facebook invented this. 

The Royal-Thomian as a brand provides many learnings for today’s marketers and even sets a benchmark of brand strength that many of today’s brands should aspire to be. Here are a few:

  • Prof. C.K Prahlad in his book the ‘The new age of innovation’ talks of the concept of co-creation and sites the ground breaking examples of Wikipedia, YouTube – where the user provides the contents, while the producer provides the platform. This has been the case with the Royal Thomian for more than a century, where by the alumni provide a key part of the contents, not forgetting those in their boys tents, the school boy cricketers and the well wishers
  • Here is an exception where Passion is the driver of the business, and not just the notion of Profit – an event that the busiest corporate CEOs will find time for and one that old boys will cross continents for!
  • New age Marketers will talk of Tattoo brands like Chelsea, Nike, Harley Davidson. Linked to the Royal- Thomian you will use many such experiences – for instance 60 years olds clad in school uniform going back to their classes for a lesson with the same Master who taught them some 50 years ago
  • Even the modern day concept of ‘Cult Brands’ is so evident when one takes a look at Corporate Sri Lanka and how loyal alumni pull strings for each other’s, even proudly claiming “he was at College, my batch, we played rugby together” – would not today’s marketers aspire for such a cult brand status for their brands?
  • The Royal Thomian has strong sub-brands, the Mustangs, the Stallions, the Colts to name a few. New brands such as Thoroughbreds are also carving out an interesting niche, thus challenging some of the more established brands to stay relevant. Each of these communities has a unique customer profile based on a combination of demographics and psychographics!
  • Above all, it has gone on for 138 years and considering it never had a single payroll employee, only the efforts of the  different Brand Evangelists


It is actually quite interesting to learn that these big matches are significantly influential when it comes to businesses and organizations. However, at the end of the day, those who assist in sponsoring these prestigious events are ultimately giving back to the school that taught and gave them so much and moulded them into the people they are today.



Source: Hilmy Cader – Chief Executive (MTI Consulting)


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