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The 2016 Sponsorship Review - Part 3

Posted By Livewire, 16 January 2017

In early 2016 Livewire held the view that the year ahead would be an exceptionally busy year for sponsors, driven by a “summer of sport”, due to Ireland’s involvement in Euro 2016, the Olympic Games, as well as annual stalwarts including the GAA Championships. Add to this an ever growing music and cultural festival scene, the landscape was likely to be both cluttered yet potentially exciting. In January we pointed to three trends to watch for the year ahead:

  • Superior activation strategies
  • Immersive media sponsorships
  • Sponsors looking for more from rights holders

For this report Livewire spoke to a select number of sponsors, rights holders and media owners to ask their views on the sponsorship campaigns which stood in 2016. We also asked them what is on their sponsorship Christmas wish list for 2017 and what they would like to see sponsors and rights holders do more of next year. The feedback is included in the report.

So, how did our predictions for key trends in 2016 fare? The answer lies in three separate reports in which we have analysed the above trends. Below is the third of these reports.

Read Part 1 here.

Read Part 2 here.

SPONSORS LOOKING FOR MORE FROM RIGHTS HOLDERS

In early 2016 we pointed to an emerging trend of sponsors looking for more from rights holders. As brands increasingly recognise the role which sponsorship can play in addressing business needs, this has led to brands looking closely at the rights they own, or seek to buy, to ensure that they can be fully leveraged. At the same time there is an increased expectation from sponsors of robust evaluation, sophisticated data and fan analysis from rights holders.

When speaking with sponsors and rights holders, many were quick to acclaim the work created by AIB, Vodafone and Heineken in 2016. The following explores these campaigns in a little more detail. We have also examined the role which a rights holder has in answering the needs from sponsors as well as how sponsors can benefit despite ongoing scandals in the world of sport.  

1. AIB & GAA

Within the Irish market, you do not have to look far to see how successful this sponsor rights holder collaboration has worked this year. AIB’s award winning sponsorship of both the Club Championship and the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship has proven that a dynamic and mutually beneficial relationship can lead to enormous success for both sponsor and rights holder. 

AIB has brought many positive elements into its relationship with the GAA, including strong strategic thinking based on a rich consumer insight and marketing expertise.

There is no doubt that the Club Championship in particular has benefited from this support. Meanwhile AIB benefits by being synonymous with a competition whose profile increases yearly.  And a competition which places the bank in the heartland of the GAA community.

This close relationship between sponsor and rights holder allowed AIB to produce authentic, relevant and welcome content which added to the fan experience throughout the season. This included “The Toughest Trade” AFP TV programme on RTE, a spectacular 360 virtual reality video of Dublin fans on Hill 16 and a heavy social media presence supporting #TheToughest.

AIB has truly become a positive agent for the Club Championship.

 

2. ROLE OF THE RIGHTS HOLDER

In terms of developing the sponsor rights holder relationship, a number of rights holders this year have embraced the opportunity to understand their sponsorship family better through sponsor conferences. The purpose of such a strategy is not only to bring the sponsor family together and openly discuss the successes, challenges, and future plans for the rights holder, but also for the sponsors to mingle and develop their relationships, possibly enhancing future collaborations. In our view, this is a smart way for a rights holder to develop relationships with its sponsor base, to encourage further buy in from sponsors and to encourage sponsors to be more proactive and collaborate with the rights holder earlier in the season to plan for the year ahead.

As an extension to this sponsor led approach, we have seen some rights holders introduce innovative concepts around data and fan analysis. The GAA recently launched a membership and loyalty programme titled “Go Raibh Maith Agat”. The programme provides members with an opportunity to earn points when attending games and allows its sponsors to offer exclusive deals and discounts. This adds value to the fan experience, but most importantly it allows the GAA to collate information obtained through the use of the membership card and provide its sponsors with valuable insights into consumer behaviour and trends which they previously may not have had access too.  

From Livewire’s research of the market, it is evident that those rights holders who place a central focus on their sponsors from an early stage, deliver not only on authentic, relevant and welcomed value for fans and sponsors but also paves the path for a greater insight into the platform.

 

3. VODAFONE & IRFU

IRFUVodafone and the IRFU were certainly a force to be reckoned with in 2016. Mutual understanding of both the rights holder’s and sponsor’s objectives allowed these two stakeholders to raise the profile of both Irish rugby as well as Vodafone’s core values and services. This award winning partnership is a prime example of where both the rights holder and sponsor have gone the extra mile and demonstrated a deep understanding of each other’s capabilities, values, and commercial opportunities. This collaborative approach reached a crescendo when Ireland beat the All Blacks in Chicago in November, but this was just the cherry on top of a hugely successful 2016.

This campaign was particularly rich in the level of behind the scenes content provided. However, this content would never have materialised if it wasn’t for the strong level of trust built up between Vodafone, the commercial team of the IRFU and the management of the Irish rugby team. Creating trust between sponsor and rights holder will be essential for the creation of valued behind the scenes content in 2017. An excellent example of this was Vodafone’s AFP TV programme “Irish Rugby, What We Did Last Summer”.

Other excellent campaign activations included the “Jersey Swap”, and exclusive prizes including Vodafone’s “Best Seats in the House”. This sponsor’s proactive and demanding approach has brought a new level of Irish rugby engagement, for both sponsor and fan.

And it must be noted that the IRFU has collaborated with their sponsor like every rights holder should i.e. through good understanding and clarity of objectives, an openness to new and innovative initiatives (e.g. “Irish Rugby, What We Did Last Summer”) and a willingness to go that extra mile for its sponsor. 

Despite the fact that the campaign was only launched this summer, the #TeamOfUs campaign triumphed at the Irish Sponsorship Awards – winning “Best Use of Social Media” and “Best Use of PR).

Sports fans are demanding more high quality behind the scenes content.

However, this is not possible without access to teams and athletes. And this is dependent on building trust between sponsor and rights holder.

In 2017 AFP will emerge as an increasingly valuable channel to share this sought after behind the scenes content.

 

1. LIVE NATION & HEINEKEN SOUND ATLAS

 

heineken cold roomsAway from the world of sport, 2016 saw Heineken bring a melting pot of musicians, artists, chefs, dancers, writers, and all kinds of creative people to Heineken Sound Atlas at Electric Picnic. This collaboration with rights holder Live Nation, highlighted the success sponsors can obtain when they seek more from the rights holder. Again, an early approach with the rights holder allowed Heineken to establish its objectives, activity roadmap and buy in from Live Nation. Through a dominant location and presence, by providing innovative concepts which added value to fans, (e.g. Heineken Cold Rooms) and onsite trade to customers, it is no surprise that the brand was seen as the best sponsor at Electric Picnic, an increase from 36% to 50% from 2015 to 2016 (Source: Electric Picnic Onsite Research). Heineken’s collaborative approach with Live Nation allowed the brand to extend its story telling platform, engage the key target demographic of 18-24 year olds and build on commercial trade impact. Meanwhile “Heineken Sound Atlas” is truly engaging music fans by giving them the opportunity to explore and discover the most exciting live music scenes from around the globe.

After years of fruitful collaboration between sponsor and rights holder, it is difficult to envisage this premier music event without Heineken and its many innovative activations. For Livewire this is the tell-tale sign of a perfect partnership.

The debate around alcohol brands and sponsorship continues is a hot topic and as a result, rights holders are having to work more closely with sponsors to overcome these challenges and look at new and creative ways to achieve sponsor objectives around strict requirements. 

Livewire believes that through a collaborative approach, no matter the industry, platform or restriction, challenges are more easily overcome.  A deeper understanding of the sponsor objectives and industry will allow for delivery of the sponsors activity roadmap.

 

5. SCANDAL AND CHALLENGES

2016 will long be remembered as a year beset by sporting scandals and controversies. One high profile example was American swimmer’s Ryan Lochte’s false robbery report during the Rio Olympics which resulted in the swimmer swiftly losing four key sponsors – including Speedo and Ralph Lauren.

skinsMeanwhile, Skins, the Australian owned sports manufacturer, was lauded for its treatment of the curious case of ultra-runner Robert Young. In May 2016 Young attempted his greatest challenge – the Trans America Record, 3,423.5 miles, usually attempted at 46 days of around 60 miles per day. Young completed almost 2,000 miles before collapsing with exhaustion – but worse was to come. He was accused from many sides of cheating – which is where this story really captured our interest.

Rather than endorsing, or cutting ties with their athlete, Skins instead employed two independent experts, and tasked them with the sole challenge of finding the truth. This report was released in October, and categorically showed, despite his protestations, that Young had indeed cheated on many of his runs.

A strong and trusting relationship between rights holders and their sponsors will allow for a more educated approach to handling such delicate scenarios – something that can absolutely be said of Skins interrogation of their sponsorship of Robert Young.  

In the current climate, this can be viewed as a refreshing approach - and when compared with the sponsors involved with cycling and Team Sky, and indeed tennis and Maria Sharapova, it would be difficult to argue that a lot of rights holders and sponsors could learn from this experience. 

In the wake of such negativity around sports scandals this year, Livewire believes that sponsors have a key role to play which they can ultimately benefit from. 

Acting decisively towards sporting administrators and athletes when required, moving their sponsorship budgets to sporting bodies which have the best interests of their sport at heart, as well as demanding higher standards and accountability. 

Sponsors can become agents for change and in the process, gain new fans.

 

CONCLUSION

 Unsurprisingly when we asked our sponsors, rights holders and media owners to nominate the sponsorship campaigns which stood out for them in 2016, the consensus here were campaigns which showed clear evidence of both brands and rights holders working in unison. Both sponsors and rights holders referred to smart usage of assets, a clarity of objective based on good consumer insight and strong through-the-line execution via stakeholder collaboration. We believe that the examples we have outlined will act as beacons to the industry.

However, a real benefit from sponsors working more closely with rights holders will be in the form of data. The recently launched GAA membership/loyalty programme is an interesting development and could prove to be hugely beneficial for the rights holder and its sponsors alike. Brands are investing increasing levels of resources in order to understand their consumer base while rights holders are eager to understand who is attending matches, buying subscriptions etc. in order to communicate and sell to these fans more effectively. Closer collaboration between sponsors and rights holders will help to fulfil this data potential. 

This article was originally published on Livewire.ie.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 Livewire are sponsorship specialists that guide brands and rights holders through every stage of the sponsorship process. Livewire understands the commercial value of sponsorship and how to measure it, with precision. The company works with sponsors to enhance brand equity, establish consumer engagement and deliver bottom line impact. Livewire also work with rights holders to grow sponsorship revenue through brand-centric solutions. As part of Core Media Group, Livewire has unsurpassed market access and world-class resources. 

www.livewire.ie

 

 
 

 

Tags:  sponsorship 

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The 2016 Sponsorship Review - Part 2

Posted By Livewire, 09 January 2017

In early 2016 Livewire held the view that the year ahead would be an exceptionally busy year for sponsors, driven by a “summer of sport”, due to Ireland’s involvement in Euro 2016, the Olympic Games, as well as annual stalwarts including the GAA Championships. Add to this an ever growing music and cultural festival scene, the landscape was likely to be both cluttered yet potentially exciting. In January we pointed to three trends to watch for the year ahead:

  • Superior activation strategies
  • Immersive media sponsorships
  • Sponsors looking for more from rights holders

For this report Livewire spoke to a select number of sponsors, rights holders and media owners to ask their views on the sponsorship campaigns which stood in 2016. We also asked them what is on their sponsorship Christmas wish list for 2017 and what they would like to see sponsors and rights holders do more of next year. The feedback is included in the report.

So, how did our predictions for key trends in 2016 fare? The answer lies in three separate reports in which we have analysed the above trends. Below is the second of these reports.

Read Part 1 here.

IMMERSIVE MEDIA SPONSORSHIPS

When speaking about immersion, we are referring to brands becoming a part of the narrative, enhancing the audience experience and being thought of as more than a disconnected, commercial add-on. 2016 has thrown up some excellent examples and potential for growth in this area. However, there are also challenges – most notably, how to deal with the concept of value and tentative approaches from industry stakeholders. 

1. IMMERSIVE MEDIA IN 2016

Media sponsorship is not a media buy! Media value attainable from a potential sponsorship is relevant only in that the levels of reach and frequency achievable need to be considered against other, potentially more cost-efficient means of achieving the same. When assessing a sponsorship package, its worth is assessed in media value terms as standard practice. While this provides a common context for evaluating the opportunity, a base for negotiating and the cost of investment for an advertiser – it should not be the only means of assessing it. This is arguably more so given the trend towards immersion and how we can evaluate success.

the toughest trade“The Toughest Trade”, created by AIB is an excellent example of advertiser-created programming and how a brand can move beyond simply badging a property. The brand was subtly integrated into the content, while also sponsoring each of the broadcasts. The format provided AIB with the perfect platform to further promote its sponsorship of the All-Ireland Club Championships, while forging a more meaningful relationship with viewers and fans alike.

More and more, the effects of a collaborative approach between media owners, agencies and advertisers are observed. While it is notable that brand objectives exceeded all targets: AIB became the GAA sponsor with the highest awareness in Ireland (Source: AAI Toolkit Seminar), the objective of increasing engagement with AIB’s target audience was evident in its social media results – for example, 1.8 million video views. The key learning from this example is the breadth of value that can be garnered from immersive media sponsorship, far beyond the standard sting value.  This is a new standard and AIB are out in front.

More recently, we have seen Vodafone cement its relationship with Irish Rugby through the airing of “Irish Rugby – What We Did Last Summer”, an Advertiser Funded Programme (AFP) used to leverage what has become one of the standout sponsorships of 2016. These two examples illustrate how media sponsorships can bolster traditional sponsorship. If this is accepted, there is no reason we can’t think about this in the reverse and use off-air activations to leverage media sponsorships and adopt a more dynamic way of thinking around media sponsorships.

Another example of this slow but effective shift towards more immersive media sponsorships and content can be seen in Skoda’s sponsorship and involvement inDaniel and Majella’s B&B Roadtrip” which was originally broadcast on UTV Ireland in 2015.

daniel and majellaIn this case Skoda moved away from merely being attached to a property and instead formed part of the story and programme narrative. This was achieved through the Skoda Yeti becoming an intrinsic part of the show. The success of the relationship was illustrated when the sponsorship picked up the ‘Best TV Broadcast Sponsorship’ award at the 2016 Irish Sponsorship Awards. The show is demonstrative of the way in which the industry can start thinking about using sponsorship properties going forward and working added value into sponsorship deals which are tailored around the brand in question.

Going into 2017, while there is an established standard in television, there is scope for more activity and more innovation. An area of growth potential is radio AFP. While radio advertising spends are not expected to rise, there is scope to change the way radio is used in line with brand objectives. Heineken adopted an innovative approach in 2016 for its music campaign, introducing the weekly show, “Sound Atlas” across a number of the Media Central stations. Kelly-Anne Byrne hosted this slot, which was intrinsically linked to Heineken’s Sound Atlas, focusing on some of the world’s most exciting music scenes, around the globe – including Paris, Brooklyn, Berlin and Tokyo. 

FM104 has also demonstrated a willingness to go beyond traditional media sponsorships. In a relatively risky move, the station replaced some scheduled programming in favour of the AIG-backed FM104’s Dub Hub – a sports show which aired on the Friday evenings of big Dublin games. This provided AIG with a platform to engage with Dublin GAA fans through targeted content and on-air activations.

Acknowledging there is a long way to go, the idea that broadcast immersion can cross-over TV and radio is an exciting prospect. There is potential to be unlocked and 2016 has started the momentum.

The success of immersive media sponsorships hinges on the investment – time and monetary – from sponsors and media-owners. 

The viewer or listener will benefit from effective immersive media sponsorships – the benefits include quality production and innovative content.

The rules and strategies for activating non-media sponsorships should be applied for media sponsorship.

Evolving the area of immersive sponsorships is slow, but promising.

 

2. THE VALUE OF BROADCAST STINGS

While Livewire champions immersion, we should acknowledge that the most traditional asset – the broadcast sting – continues to have unique value. At the most top-line level, the nature of a programme means a sponsor can establish a connection with a theme that can resonate in the mind of the audience. Obvious examples are presented where there are natural parallels between the brand and the theme of the show. For example, “Countrywide” on RTE Radio 1 is currently sponsored by National Dairy Council and “Futureproof”, Newstalk’s science and technology show is sponsored by The Science Foundation of Ireland. The opportunity to reach a community with such a pointed, frequent and creatively relevant message is something that a tangible value cannot be placed on.  The association is functional in that it is representative of the brand’s sphere and more importantly, ‘owning’ that theme enables a sponsor to stand out from its competition particularly when demand for relevant programming exceeds supply. 

In addition to the above, there are specific audiences that are notoriously difficult to reach. For example, targeting adults 15-34 is relatively tough due to the shift towards online viewing. This makes a television programme like First Dates Ireland all the more valuable to a sponsor for both targeting an audience and eliminating opportunities for competitors. In 2016, the series reached 40% of adults 15-34 and 55% of women 15+, ensuring that the sponsor - its4women.ie, could communicate succinctly with its  target audience.

cadbury sponsorship x factor

A sponsorship that is not necessarily a natural fit between the brand and property can, in fact, bring its own benefits. Sponsorship can bring the opportunity to embed a brand within a context, routine or way of thinking and add to the audience experience. This creates a connection between a brand and a theme that would not otherwise be there. P&G’s sponsorship of Ireland AM is an example of how household brands place themselves within prominent daytime programming thus becoming a normal fixture in the daily routine, making connections with those who are at home during the day. Cadbury’s has also effectively done this with its sponsorship of The X-Factor on TV3 by changing the stings to match the programme theme creating a smooth transition and seemingly integrating into the show. Cadbury’s took this further and activated the sponsorship strongly with the addition of an X Factor Party for the screening of the final.

 

The value of media sponsorship differs from that of a comparable media buy.  

Understanding the value of traditional sponsorship enables us to think more proactively about a more dynamic approach to making use of a sponsorship opportunity.

Acknowledging the value in the opportunity against the tangible media value is key.

 

3. THE CHALLENGE OF VALUING MEDIA SPONSORSHIPS

So why talk about immersion and value? Prior to the trend towards branded content, AFPs and on air activations, traditional media sponsorships have always held a superior value that can be difficult to quantify. The added element of immersive opportunities adds to the qualitative element. Livewire’s stance on this is two-fold:

First, while there are conversations around ‘added value’, value means different things in different contexts. There needs to be a distinction between cost to a sponsor, media value for the sponsor and overall value of a sponsorship to an advertiser. The cost is the market value of a sponsorship package, the media value is the amount the sponsor would pay in a standard media buy for the same media results as per its trading rates and the overall value is how the property in question can satisfy the sponsor’s overall objective(s). ‘Value’ of a sponsorship is often skewed by what the sponsor would expect to achieve from a standard media campaign and this varies between advertisers. Therefore, the media value should be communicated, but only as a cost opportunity – a means of achieving the same reach and frequency through a standard media buy.

For all the examples outlined previously, there is an implicit logic to the sponsorship despite the media value that could be derived. It serves to think beyond media value and look at what sponsor can do with the show. Over and above the value of making a connection, there is the means of re-enforcing that connection through editorial content, product placement, PR opportunities, promotions, audience engagement etc. Sponsorship value needs to be thought of in terms of return on objectives as well as return on investment. There are intangible benefits to aligning with any given media property. It is these gains that differentiate sponsorship from a standard media buy.

Secondly, as previously alluded to, there are learnings to be taken from traditional off-air sponsorships. Frequently sponsors use broadcast to leverage existing non-media sponsorships. Examples from 2016 include AIB Club Championships sponsorship extending to the broadcast on TG4 and The Toughest Trade AFP on RTÉ, Vodafone’s AFP for Irish Rugby on RTÉ, and Ulster Bank’s sponsorship of RTÉ’s Six Nations coverage. If done properly - adding to, rather than interfering with the fan experience, a brand can become a part of a passionate discourse in a relevant way and potentially influence brand perception, as well as being front and centre for a large audience.  If media is one piece of the puzzle in that context, then there are measurement methods around effectiveness and affinity from off-air activations that can be applied to media sponsorships and their complimentary activations. A holistic approach to measuring media sponsorship that includes elements beyond the broadcast should be fostered across the industry and it is up to sponsors, agencies, media-owners and producers to nurture this potential and encourage innovation in sponsorship. 

The concept of ‘value’ in a media sponsorship is open to interpretation depending on the approach and the stakeholder.

Measurement is not sufficiently applied throughout the industry to elements of media sponsorship that extend beyond the broadcast.

Livewire champions a rounded approach to measurement of media sponsorships where communication between all the stakeholders is key and learnings feed into future collaborations.

 

CONCLUSION

Media sponsorship is not a media buy! Being a good fit for the brand or reaching a specific audience is only one, though the most visible, piece of the media sponsorship puzzle. The opportunities offered range from influencing awareness and perception, to inhibiting competitors and allowing more on-point messages to more relevant audiences. Secondly, key to consideration of media sponsorship is the idea that when the transmission ends, the conversation around it is only beginning and that is the space the sponsor can capitalise on. More so, it is a conversation which the sponsor can initiate. There is a ready-made audience for the brand with added opportunities to engage in relevant context.

However, to drive this forward this will require a change in mind shift from media owners and brands. The industry must finally move away from a “badging exercise” and instead embrace new formats, social media, technology etc. which will leverage the scope and potential for media sponsorships – thus delivering brand objectives.

The final piece of the puzzle is a drive for a better understanding of the value that exists in immersive media sponsorships – beyond broadcast stings. This is an area of focus for Livewire in 2017.

This article was originally published on Livewire.ie.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 Livewire are sponsorship specialists that guide brands and rights holders through every stage of the sponsorship process. Livewire understands the commercial value of sponsorship and how to measure it, with precision. The company works with sponsors to enhance brand equity, establish consumer engagement and deliver bottom line impact. Livewire also work with rights holders to grow sponsorship revenue through brand-centric solutions. As part of Core Media Group, Livewire has unsurpassed market access and world-class resources. 

www.livewire.ie

 
 

Tags:  sponsorship 

PermalinkComments (0)
 

The 2016 Sponsorship Review - Part 1

Posted By Livewire, 04 January 2017
Updated: 03 January 2017

In early 2016 Livewire held the view that the year ahead would be an exceptionally busy year for sponsors, driven by a “summer of sport”, due to Ireland’s involvement in Euro 2016, the Olympic Games, as well as annual stalwarts including the GAA Championships. Add to this an ever growing music and cultural festival scene, the landscape was likely to be both cluttered yet potentially exciting. In January we pointed to three trends to watch for the year ahead:

  • Superior activation strategies
  • Immersive media sponsorships
  • Sponsors looking for more from rights holders 

For this report Livewire spoke to a select number of sponsors, rights holders and media owners to ask their views on the sponsorship campaigns which stood in 2016. We also asked them what is on their sponsorship Christmas wish list for 2017 and what they would like to see sponsors and rights holders do more of next year. The feedback is included in the report. 


So, how did our predictions for key trends in 2016 fare? The answer lies in three separate reports in which we have analysed the above trends. Below is the first of these reports.

Click here for part 2

SUPERIOR ACTIVATION STRATEGIES

In this year of all years we have reviewed four activations which delivered in 2016. 


Unsurprisingly as is so often found in sponsorship, sport flew the flag in terms of standout sponsor activations. Disappointingly, activations in other areas failed to hit the same heights. 


To illustrate this point, below are two charts highlighting the sponsorships shortlisted for the 2017 European Sponsorship Association Excellence Awards and the winners of the 2016 Irish Sponsorship Awards. As can be seen below, sport represents more than 60% of both awards programmes. 

 

 

1. LIDL - LADIES FOOTBALL

2016 started with a bang in the shape of the multiple award winning launch of Lidl’s sponsorship of the LGFA and the Ladies National Football League, which kicked off with the provocative “Ladyball” concept.

This campaign stood out for several reasons. Firstly, it was evident that Lidl worked hand in hand with the LGFA to design a powerful 360 activation for their sponsorship. 

Secondly Lidl’s brave decision to create an entire campaign - bolstered by a reported adspend of €1.6 million on media channels (Source: Nielsen Ad Dynamix) - around a platform which traditionally would be viewed as having low reach, was lauded by many marketers that we spoke to as a brave, but clever move. This is illustrated by the sponsorship being shortlisted in the European Sponsorship Association Excellence Awards. 

While interest levels among the public and the industry in women’s sport in Ireland has steadily grown in the past five years – with Liberty Insurance’s work on Camogie, the phenomenon that is Katie Taylor, and the advances made in the game of Women’s rugby, due much of the credit - it is not untoward to say that spend, reach and indeed national interest in women’s sport, never mind the LGFA, was at a relatively low level prior to the #SeriousSupport campaign.

From a commercial perspective, a heavy above the line campaign was buoyed with in-store competitions in support of local post primary schools and Ladies Gaelic Football clubs which crucially brought the sponsorship into the community. This for possibly the first time, gave Lidl a crucial platform for differentiation against its key competitor Aldi, as well as a channel to convey its local credentials.

Attendance at the Ladies Football Championship Final increased year on year to 34,445 but perhaps the most significant increase was in TV viewership, with a 100% increase YoY, from 104,000 to 207,790 (adults aged 15+) with the share of audience viewing increasing from 11% in 2015 to 27% for the 2016 final.

ladie's gaa viewership

 

ladies gaa attendance

For comparison purposes the SSE FA Women’s Cup is a high-profile competition which receives national coverage in the UK, but still falls short of the attendance for the Ladies Football Championship final:

  • 2016 Ladies Football Championship Final: 34,445
  •  2016 Ladies FA Cup Final: 32,912

Lidl’s spend of €1.6m (Source: Nielsen Ad Dynamix) in media, represents only a proportion of the budget allocated to activating its sponsorship – with experiential, production, PR and rights holder fees all in addition to the €1.6m adspend, it is highly likely that this is the largest amount of money ever invested in support of women’s sport in Ireland. 

Lidl has been operating in the Irish market since 2000 and for the past 16 years most of its campaigns have focussed on tactical/brand messaging - specifically price and awareness building.  This successful campaign was their first foray into a large scale national sponsorship – something which it’s direct competitor has since responded to as Aldi launched “Play Rugby” in conjunction with the IRFU in September 2016.  

Livewire maintain that adding value is integral to the success of any sponsorship – something which Lidl has undoubtedly achieved with Ladies GAA. 

Lidl is ahead of the curve in how it has embraced and leveraged the potential of a female sport. And while we expect that other brands will wake up to the power of women’s sport, they may still trail in Lidl’s wake in 2017. It’s an exciting time for this sector with Lidl, Aldi, SuperValu and Centra actively involved in sponsorship it promises to be one to watch for 2017.

 

2. BORD GAIS- ENERGY STUDENT THEATRE AWARDS (BGESTA)

Bord Gáis operates in a highly competitive sector, one which is driven by churn. Therefore, creating loyalty among its customer base is a key objective of most sponsorships that an energy brand engages in. 

bord gais student theatre

Internationally there is no better example of this than the British Gas sponsorship of SwimBritian. This award winning sponsorship helped move British Gas from 3rd to 1st choice energy provider in the UK, enabling the brand acquire 500,000 extra customers in 2009 alone. Between 2009 and 2015, when the partnership came to its conclusion, British Gas helped over 100,000 children learn to swim, provided 1.5 million free swims and supported elite athletes on the world stage. Crucially research conducted by British Gas showed that fans and participants of swimming were much more likely to consider British Gas. Bord Gáis decision to develop a platform supporting student theatre, having been title sponsors of the Irish Book Awards since 2010 is a logical progression of its sponsorship of the Arts in Ireland, and is designed to drive affinity. It also serves to elevate the naming rights deal struck with the Bord Gáis Theatre.

Families with children are likely to be an important market for Bord Gáis, so a sponsorship crafted around children is a sensible way to reach key decision makers in the home. 

The third annual Bord Gáis Student Theatre Awards took place in May 2016. This platform has evolved into the biggest school’s participation programme in Ireland and firmly established Bord Gáis as a proud supporter of the Arts.

Bord Gáis has elevated what could be viewed as a niche platform into a truly engaging programme with national reach, generating 2,888 entries from 1,500 schools across the country in 2016. Bord Gáis cleverly crafted its message to appeal to a younger audience. The activation of the sponsorship existed primarily on social, with fun video content. Collaborating with influencers to both promote (bloggers itscherrysue, Darragh Doyle, snapchat star James Patrice) and judge (Actress & writer Amy Huberman, Strictly Come Dancing star Tristan MacManus) the competition generated credible content that Bord Gáis seeded out across social channels.

This sponsorship, which was judged the winner of the “Best Arts & Cultural Sponsorship” at the 2016 Irish Sponsorship Awards, and has been shortlisted in the “Arts & Culture Sponsorship Awards” in the 2017 ESA Excellence Awards has experienced huge growth year on year. 

Reaching out to family is a great driver of passion points – an objective which we believe is integral to sponsorship success for Bord Gáis.

Unlike other international markets, in Ireland sponsorship of arts events is traditionally challenging, with few truly national programmes available for sponsorship here.

We need to see brands and rights holders work together to create engaging sponsorships which consumer facing brands can make their own, echoing what BMW have created with The Tate Modern in the UK.  Arts is one of the few ‘clutter free’ sectors that has the potential to allow brands reach out to families. 

 

3. SPAR & THE TEAM OF GARY BREEN'S

While the excitement around Euro 2016 provided brands with an opportunity to engage football fans, only tournament sponsors are entitled to associate with the tournament itself. This created a challenge for official FAI sponsors looking to leverage their association with the team playing in the competition. SPAR was one such example – official partners of the FAI but not the competition. 

spar team gary breen

The money invested by sponsors for the right to associate with either the Irish team or Euro 2016 serves to create an opportunity to engage football fans. The trick has always been maximising this opportunity with an activation strategy which connects, something SPAR did masterfully in Summer 2016. Their promotion to send “A Team of Gary Breens” to France to support the boys in green, along with the former Irish international himself, met their primary objective of driving footfall to stores. 

Livewire research showed that post-tournament, 24% of people aware of the sponsorship were more likely to shop at the convenience retailer as a result of their sponsorship of the team. The activation ran in-store, alongside a broadcast partnership with Off The Ball on Newstalk. The campaign was activated both on-air and online through display, native content and a number of giveaways (incl. a signed team jersey), culminating in an outside broadcast event in J.T. Pim’s in Dublin city centre

SPAR was keen to engage a core audience of sports fans from around the country, while granting the opportunity to communicate key brand messages on a national scale. SPAR wanted to communicate with fans of Irish soccer and Off The Ball was unequivocally the ideal platform to do this.

Increasing footfall is a primary objective for retailers for ad campaign/promotions. However, in a category which is traditionally one of the highest adspend sectors is incredibly difficult to achieve. 

SPAR overcame the hurdle of not being in a position to promote its association at Euro 2016 with a strong activation which cut through the clutter around the tournament, engaged with listeners and delivered their objective of increasing footfall in stores. 

 

4. LITTLEWOODS & GAA

The end of the year brought the launch of a partnership that may have been a surprise to some.

This was one of the biggest, and hotly contested sponsorship deals brokered in 2016. We see Littlewoods’ investment being €2.5 to €3 million over the next three years, with the deal running through to 2019.

littlewoods gaa sponsorship

Livewire’s research for this report showed that advertisers believe that the GAA arena is quite cluttered, with many brands in similar categories fighting to create resonance. Without fail, all marketers we spoke to referenced AIB as clear winners in this space.

Littlewoods has become sponsor of the GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship and the Camogie National League, as well as Go Games (a small sided hurling and football programme). While this sponsorship is in its infancy, there are insights to be taken from the brand’s approach thus far.

The initial coverage of the launch has already highlighted that, by collaborating with a retailer operating primarily in fashion, the GAA is already being mentioned in new spaces, with coverage on sites including Her.ie and Evoke.ie reaching a community of fashion and style enthusiasts. The savvy timing of a pre-Christmas launch makes ultimate sense for Littlewoods as a retailer competing with bricks and mortar department stores.

Sports sponsorships involving fashion retailers in this market are relatively rare. Elverys are a manufacturer of sports clothing rather than a retailer, Dublin GAA and Arnotts had a rich 18-year partnership with the sponsorship driving home the Arnotts objective of driving their identity as a pillar of Dublin. 

Livewire expects Littlewoods to use this sponsorship to create an emotive presence on the ground, building an identity difficult to create without a physical touchpoint. 

Livewire will be watching this sponsorship in earnest in 2017. The emergence of a sponsor from a new category is likely to create new activation strategies, and may give rise to other fashion brands entering into the sponsorship market. 

 

CONCLUSION

At the start of 2016 Livewire felt that a select few Irish sponsors were already mastering activation, and seeing the benefits of same. Unfortunately, the scale and quality of such activations by these leading brands in sport sponsorship remains the exception rather than the rule. Certainly, activations in areas including music and the arts haven’t been as remarkable in their progress - notable exceptions in the music world includes Heineken and Electric Ireland. However, it feels as though the adage of “if it ain’t broke…” is alive and well when it comes to sponsorship of music properties including the ever popular festival formats. Activations that were seen as cutting edge a few years ago are still touring the festival scene. Thus, we implore sponsors to break new ground in 2017. In particular, there is a major opportunity for sponsors in music to add value to festival fans in a new way, for example by taking advantage of tech and social innovations. Cashless festivals anyone!? 

As our report has highlighted, VR (virtual reality) was a key feature of a number of the year’s standout activation strategies. VR has real potential to enhance sponsor activation and we expect to see a major expansion in the use of VR and AI by sponsors in 2017.  

This article was originally published on Livewire.ie.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 Livewire are sponsorship specialists that guide brands and rights holders through every stage of the sponsorship process. Livewire understands the commercial value of sponsorship and how to measure it, with precision. The company works with sponsors to enhance brand equity, establish consumer engagement and deliver bottom line impact. Livewire also work with rights holders to grow sponsorship revenue through brand-centric solutions. As part of Core Media Group, Livewire has unsurpassed market access and world-class resources. 

www.livewire.ie

 
 
 

 

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