By Claire Reilly

SYDNEY, NSW: After a win each way to the Blues and the Maroons, this year’s State of Origin series looks set to be a much more closely fought contest than last year’s Queenslandslide.

In the lead up to the third game in July, caught up with Dave Marshall, managing director of Fujifilm Australia, to have a chat about the exposure Fujifilm is getting through their sponsorship of the event.

Describing the rationale behind the sponsorship, Marshall said the decision to go with the State of Origin was obvious.

“It’s the most followed single sporting event in Australia,” he said. “In this arena, people should pick what they wish to support. We don’t sponsor any AFL or NRL teams for example, because we think that gets a bit diluted. So we make our major sporting statement through State of Origin.”

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Fujifilm jointly sponsors the State of Origin with Harvey Norman, a partnership that is in its eighth year in 2011, and Marshall said the decision to work with Harvey Norman was an easy one.

“We started back with Harveys back in 2004, and we wanted to be exposed to a lot of families, so that decision made a lot of sense,” he said. “We think it’s really good for both our customers and the relationship between the companies.

“Traditionally, before Fujifilm came along, the sponsorships may have lasted two or three years, but we’ve seen that it’s such relevant family event so we’ve had it for a long time. It’s not going away any time soon. We’re all signed until the end of 2012 and it’s highly unlikely we’ll stop then!

Marshall said the sponsorship also helped to create brand recognition.

“We’ve been doing it for so long now, just about all the industry is very aware of it. Certainly all our customer base is,” he said. “Not just the photographic and electrical side, but also our printing customers.

“Photo processing is totally and absolutely a family event: the biggest players are young mums with kids. And we see State of Origin as a very good interface for that sort of family event. The brand’s very highly exposed on our kiosks or digital photo centres, and Origin just reinforces that again.”

And his predictions for the series winner?

“The Blues. We always go down and present the trophy with Gerry Harvey at the final and we think it’s about time we give it to a colour other than Maroon!”