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Half-Time Sponsorship Scores Signal GAA's Time to Shine

Posted By Onside, 01 August 2017

John Trainor Onside

As the summer season of GAA heats up on the field, sponsors still view gaelic football and hurling as a winning platform, as 1 in 5 sponsorship deals in Ireland so far this year involved a GAA property, according to sponsorship experts ONSIDE. 

While the latest ONSIDE QSR (Quarterly Sponsorship Review) shows that the second quarter of 2017 saw a slower rate of activity to the same period last year In terms of volumes of sponsorship deals made, there has been an overall year on year growth of 3% in sponsorship deals in the first half of 2017 vs. the same period in 2016.

Sport continues to command a lion’s share of the sponsorship activity in Ireland in 2017, with 3 in 4 deals reported so far this year played out in the sports arena. High-profile deals like Bord Gáis Energy’s new sponsorship of the All Ireland Senior Hurling Championships and the GAA’s new partnership with Ericsson all made headlines, while soccer is also showing particularly strong progress this year, including a range of new FAI deals with brands including Fulfill, Rustlers and a major new kit deal with New Balance. 

Commenting on other Irish sponsorship market dynamics at play to date in 2017, John Trainor, Founder and CEO of ONSIDE notes that “media / broadcast and equestrian related sponsorships have also got off to a flying start in the first half of the year.  Financial services and travel & tourism sectors have been most active to date as brands in these sectors establish their positioning for more competitive landscapes to trade in over the medium term.”

In terms of the Irish public’s buy-in to sponsors advances, Trainor notes “a more consistent pattern of admiration for sponsors is emerging as the Irish Sponsorship marketplace matures further. For the second quarter in a row, our research found 2 in 3 Irish adults that could name a sponsorship that they liked.  The other dynamic is that a smaller number of sponsors are ‘making the cut’ in people’s minds as the clutter of brands is being more clearly filtered to 30 or 40 brands consistently standing out for people”. 

Telecoms brands topped the ONSIDE list of most appealing sport sponsors among Irish adults for the second quarter in a row, with main rugby and soccer sponsors Vodafone and 3 championing sports sponsorship appeal.  Vodafone also topped ONSIDE’s poll of Ireland’s most appealing non-sports sponsors, joined by other major sponsors of non-sports platforms such as 3, Guinness, Electric Ireland, Heineken and Bord Gáis Energy.  Aviva’s progress was also singled out by the ONSIDE research as being exponential in the past 12 months, while Bank of Ireland and Lucozade all show good momentum in the latest research.

With all eyes on the GAA sponsorship platform in an otherwise quiet summer of sport this year, the latest ONSIDE QSR research with the Irish public also zoned in specifically on the early performers in terms of most admired GAA sponsorship, finding over 30 sponsors making the cut.  The ONSIDE research demonstrates the importance of strong activation to win over the hearts and minds of the Irish public, with Supervalu, who have supported the GAA since 2010, topping the table of most appealing GAA sponsor in Q2 2017, followed by relative newcomer Lidl, who have invested heavily in promoting their association with Ladies Gaelic Football.  Guinness is still positively associated with the games in third, ahead of AIB and Bank of Ireland. 


John Trainor is the CEO and founder of ONSIDE. He has been a contributing member and Fellow of the Marketing Institute of Ireland for over 20 years.

ONSIDE is a leading specialist in marketing and sponsorship consulting and research services – With a proven track record and strong industry experience in a cross section of sectors, ONSIDE is currently feeding into the marketing and sponsorship decision making of circa €50m+ of Irish spend – working on many of Ireland’s premier sponsorships – on sporting, music, cause-related, broadcast and other platforms.

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Earning Attention at Cannes

Posted By Emma Williams & Jennifer Hyland, Edelman Ireland, 24 July 2017

The agency ‘blurred lines’ conversation is one that plays out in the industry repeatedly. This takes on a whole new lease of life in Cannes. On the awards stage at the world’s leading festival of creativity, it’s even harder to distinguish between agencies. Brilliant, impactful campaigns are played out during the awards every evening that could come from any discipline; ad, design, creative or PR. We’re told over and over that great creative ideas win awards but what does that mean through the lens of your own discipline and your own unique skill set?

Travelling to Cannes as PR Young Lions, we knew there must be a way to distinguish a brilliant PR creative idea. But how?

Our first port of call in getting to the bottom of this was in the Jury room with the PR judges.  A fantastic opportunity for anyone attending Cannes Lions, these jury sessions promised to tell us exactly how and why campaigns won Grand Prix, Gold, Silver and Bronze. The PR Jurors shared insights on what great PR work meant at Cannes as separate to any other discipline.

They opened with the following statement,

“We’ll only reward real PR work”.

But what does that mean?

They explained that this year they changed the criteria to emphasise the importance of earned media. They wanted the PR entries to earn attention first, with ideas so strong they had the ability to grow by themselves before amplifying with a paid strategy. So, how do you build an idea that can earn attention?

Here’s the 5 key takeaways.

1. Idea so strong it will be shared…organically.

The power of earned was recognised and awarded across the Festival but especially in the PR category. If the message doesn’t travel organically, it won’t make the cut.

2. Ideas must be creatively executed.

The big opportunity is technology that now allows us to tell the same stories in amazing ways. Communications that aren’t anchored by a powerful creative idea and brought to life through brilliant execution will not earn audiences’ attention and engagement. Creativity, regardless of the discipline, should always be informed by and grounded in insights - creativity for creativity's sake is nice, but won't lead to meaningful results.

3. Ideas that deliver business or societal results.

Ideas must be unflinchingly committed to strong meaningful measurement - however un-sexy - with no compromises. Measurement is not about likes and shares or meaningless circulation numbers. It should be about metrics and tangible business results. This is critical to a winning campaign - no matter how innovative or "cool" it may be.

4. Ideas that move from a moment to a movement.

 A winning idea should be inherently obvious, instantly understood, and universally appealing. They are campaigns that were so culturally relevant that they became part of a moment in time.

5. Ideas that make you think ‘I wish I did that’!

The judges were seeking out work that they wish they had done themselves. We also spent the week in Cannes seeking out work that we could have done here in the Irish market.

It wasn’t just the judges talking about the importance of earned but the speakers too.

A$AP Rocky, rapper, and creative director, summed it up in one simple sentence.

“Whack is whack”.


Putting money behind something doesn't make it good – here’s some our favourite earned work from the festival. The campaigns that definitely weren’t whack.


The Cheetos Museum

A brilliantly, simple idea that it’s rooted in the product insight – every Cheeto is different. It also took consumer involvement to the next level, celebrating consumers as artists! Cheetos were a category leader but faced pressure and needed to find new ways to grow. The consumer needed to find a new reason to buy the product again. The campaign sparked a nationwide hunt taking it from a moment to a movement and delivering their highest sales week ever.


Fly Babies by Jet Blue

Despite consistently high customer satisfaction there’s an element of the inflight experience that is beyond Jet Blue’s control - crying babies. They created a campaign to look at this human truth from both sides - passengers feel annoyed and mothers feel anxious.

In the lead up to Mother’s Day, they announced on a flight that each passenger on board would receive 25% off if a baby cries – four crying babies is a round trip ticket for free. The campaign challenged perceptions of babies on board while empathising with mothers.

For the first time ever, crying babies on a flight were a good thing.


Google Sheep View by Visit Faroe Islands

A David versus Goliath story of a girl and her sheep against the world’s largest corporation.

Google was simply not interested in the tiny country. And with only 50,000 inhabitants the Faroe Islands had limited opportunities to market the small islands in the world. By earning the media's interest all over the in the world, suddenly Google was a little more amenable...


Spanish Lessons by Narcos

A brilliant idea that came from using social listening to find a common thread between global viewers. It belonged on social as that’s where people are when they’re streaming and it organically outperformed all paid posts from Netflix. Who doesn’t love free Spanish lessons?



Emma Williams is an Associate Director and Jennifer Hyland an Account Director at Edelman Ireland.

Edelman is a leading global communications marketing firm that partners with many of the world’s largest and emerging businesses and organisations, helping them evolve, promote and protect their brands and reputations. They have deep expertise in consumer trends, research, analytics and insights, corporate reputation, health, technology, crisis, energy, and government affairs. Please visit for further information.

Edelman Ireland are corporate partners of the Marketing Institute. Learn more about corporate partnership here.


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Irish Marketers Bring Back The Best From Cannes

Posted By The Marketing Institute, 19 July 2017


2017 was Ireland’s biggest year to date at the Cannes Lions festival of creativity with 81 delegates and 14 Young Lions in attendance.

In partnership with IAPI and PRII, we’ve asked some of these attendees to look back at the best campaigns they saw in Cannes and share their most exciting experiences at our Cannes-Alysis event this Monday.

It was a full house at the National Concert Hall where we watched presentations from Patrick McConvillle (ICAN), Emer Lawn (Mediaworks), Peter O’Dwyer & Adrian Fitz-Simon (Havas), Mark Brennan (AIB), Emma Williams (Edelman), Enda Kelly & Karl Waters (Target McConnells).

View photo gallery


Here are some of the Campaigns that inspired them most.



State Street Global Advisors, McCann New York



Samsung, Leo Burnett Chicago



Cheetos, Goodby Silverstein & Partners



P&G, Saatchi & Saatchi



And the number one piece of advice the speakers brought back from the festival? Take risks. Do not be afraid of being afraid. That's how the best work is created.

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A Day in the Life of... Sorcha Coleman, Head of Talent at Alternatives

Posted By The Marketing Institute, 11 July 2017
Updated: 07 July 2017

sorcha coleman alternativesThe Marketing Institute: What does a Head of Talent do?

Sorcha Coleman: In Alternatives, as Head of Talent, my purpose is to ensure myself and my team are providing the best talent to the market and offering relevant and compelling career opportunities to our tribe of marketing mavens and customer evangelists. I also focus on being consistent in how we learn and develop our understanding of the key requirements that are relevant to customer centric marketing demands.


MII: What were your key career moves to get to your current role?

S.C: I’m always very appreciative of the Masters in Marketing Practice that I secured in Smurfit Business School which provided a huge springboard to my marketing career. A couple of years spent leading the Marketing remit for a global medical company provided me with a great grounding in marketing skills. However, I am true believer in consistent upskilling and education in order to adapt to ever-changing skills in demand.


MII: What is the biggest challenge you face in your role?

S.C: There can be a misperception about recruitment being simply about searching through a database and coming across a couple of candidates suitable for a position. If only it was that straightforward. In order to maintain such a high level of quality in our service delivery and investment in building our relationships with our Marketing tribe, there can never be enough time in the day.


MII: What key skills do you need to be effective in your role?

S.C: The role of marketing continues to be incredibly complex in this digitally-enhanced, data-driven world. To be effective, you need to have tenacity and persistence with the ambition to provide the best service to your market, whilst delivering talent that is relevant to specific technical and cultural skills. Alternatives is a unique boutique agency that is very different to most within the industry. We are expected to absolutely understand the complexities within the evolved world of marketing, so a passion and interest to always learn and grow is essential. I am also a strong believer in showing integrity within every step of the recruitment process.


MII: Describe a typical working day.

S.C: The joy about my job is that no one day is ever the same. Meetings with our marketing tribe, with my inspiring team and managing the recruitment process usually makes up the bulk of my day. My 45min walk in and out of work helps me balance it all out!


MII: What do you love most about your role?

S.C: Without doubt, I get such a buzz when I meet with exceptional marketers and then find them a new position where I just know, they will excel with their career. It is an honour to have the opportunity to work with such incredible marketing talent every day where I am in the unique position of getting significantly valuable insights into incredible marketing teams across every sector. This allows me to be able educate and inform people of what is going on outside of their area of expertise.


MII: Looking ahead, where might your career path lead to next?

S.C: The wonderful advantage with working in the Alternatives Group is that you are always allowed the opportunity to diversify. As Head of Talent, along with the actual recruitment, I do have a very strong general management remit, managing a super team, developing new business, growing our presence within specialist fields and driving commercial growth. There are always new opportunities on the horizon which is probably why I’m here so long.


MII: To whom do you look for professional inspiration in your role?

S.C: My Dad is semi-retired now, but has always been self-employed and I have most certainly inherited my ambition and commercial drive from him. He is always my first call when it comes to any career advice I need. I also consider myself exceptionally lucky to have worked for our Founder, Sandra Lawler for the past nine years. Sandra has built a business and brand that is held with such admiration in the market. Like most small businesses,

Alternatives experienced tough times during the recession and it is only for Sandra’s immense business acumen that we survived that rough patch and have now built our little empire back up with such integrity and innovative ambition. With Charley Stoney as our MD, I am lucky to be surrounded by inspirational leadership. 

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Dynamic shifts in data roles – the rise of the ‘data hybrid’

Posted By Adrian Clarke, Alternatives, 04 July 2017

Adrian Clarke AlternativesAdrian Clarke, Analytics Talent Manager at Alternatives, discusses how business & analytics skills are merging to create high opportunity data roles across digital & AI.


Everyone has accepted that data skills are in vogue.  What’s more is how dynamic that demand is particularly in the Irish jobs market. Organisations have grown up and aren’t just talking about ‘all of that rich data’ but seek to see change with data at the core. This shift is driving great talent to recognise new unprecedented niches & the opportunity to be truly specialist. In marketing terms – traditional hybrid roles have demanded multiple skill sets- business, marketing and technical— all rolled into one person; a no brainer! In data terms, however – hybrid has never been so specific.


Web Analytics 3.0


With the growth of the Google Cloud, Adobe Marketing Cloud & the Oracle, Azure, Amazon and IBM cloud offerings – web analytics, in particular, has seen unprecedented hybridisation. A digital team for example, may require a digital data analyst or scientist to not only analyse the outputs of data from online and integrated sources but to also come armed with deep knowledge of specific platforms. Delving deeper –consider a data analyst on a digital team utilising google tag manager ‘GTM’ & google search console data.

If the individual is expected to guide the team on sales funnel insights from digital assets – without knowledge of specific nuances in the roll out of GTM – one could see how this may not lead to the most accurate purview!

The opportunity for this hybrid digital marketer and data analyst is seen in how American Airlines have ramped up their use of offline customer data with real-time web data. AA found that owing to the pace of change of assets on its website; often critical customer data had been overlooked. Using a third party data monetisation partner and a combination of advanced tagging and data analysis an ROI of over 400% was achieved. Suddenly data hybrids look far more interesting! More on this case study here.


Enter the CAIO


Google CEO, Sundar Pachai has long touted that artificial intelligence ‘AI’ technologies will completely re-engineer everything that Google currently offers. In fact, at the organisation’s annual developer’s conference taking place this week – a host of voice & image recognition advancements were launched. Just last week on the back of the flurry of discussion at the Irish Future Scope conference – Ireland was celebrated as a high potential location for global AI developments.

At this level, we’re not only seeing hybridisation in the use of data in our smartphones as personal assistants but also in how we are enabling third parties to use our data. This leads to a challenge for data leaders.  Forbes reported recently on the ongoing debate at top table when it comes to responsibility for critical artificial intelligence technologies i.e.  should the CIO or CDO hold the keys? Some of those reading this may feel more comfortable in interpreting above as machine learning – we digress! There’s a case for AI falling under the remit of the CDO given the obvious processing of data and for the CIO given the storage and management of customer permissions associated with it. As AI will inevitably involve the CDO, this doesn’t necessarily mean that he or she will be leading that shift however.  In some cases it will be the head of another department that asks for an AI solution, while in others the CIO may find an AI solution for the entire organisation.

This hybrid conundrum is perhaps best solved in bringing the best of a CDO, CIO and AI guru together – encompassing the CAIO or Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer; again – highly specificKristian Hammond of the Harvard Business Review argues against the hiring of a CIAO arguing that the “Chief of AI is no substitute for effective communication between the people in your organisation with technical chops and those with strategic savvy”.

Respected Chief Data Scientist Andrew Ng from Baidu (China’s global search engine giant) has long argued a case for the CAIO role for every organisation who has committed to the use of AI technologies.  With the evolution of IT and the internet, we saw the rise of CIOs to help companies organise their information – even in Ireland, this has taken some time! Andrew argues a case for the CAIO by saying that organisations need someone who can make sure that AI gets applied across silos – highlighting that even in organisations much smaller than the ‘Facebooks & Googles’ of this world that AI needs champions who understand data management & data governance as well as the rapid requirement to apply innovative new technologies. This is one hybrid – which is sure to be hotly debated in 2017.

In March, Alternatives documented the increase in interest amongst Irish organisations in using advanced and intelligent data technologies as organisations ramp up the industrialisation of their data. With data hybridisation clearly becoming a strong theme in terms of technology & leadership, perhaps it’s the case that consumers, data professionals and business leaders are becoming a little more aware and weary of the volumes of data available. One cannot deny however that as the world collectively becomes even more data-obsessed – the ability to bring more than just data skills, but also abstract and left of field knowledge into one’s role- the higher the opportunity that awaits.


If this article has struck a chord with you please reach out and contact me at or call +353 (1) 661 8889.

This article was originally published on


Adrian Clarke is Talent Manager for Data Analytics, Insights & CRM at Alternatives. 

Alternatives has pioneered flexible marketing talent solutions since our inception in 2000. Looking at business models from an alternative perspective has always been part of our ethos- hence our name. Today as leaders in the Irish market, we have built a successful specialist marketing, digital and customer centric talent solutions business.

And our track record speaks for itself. We work with Ireland Inc’s leading companies and have been recognised by a number of awards, including being selected as finalists for EY Entrepreneur of the Year.

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