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Future Focus

Posted By The Marketing Institute, Wednesday 11 January 2017

There’s never a better time to look towards the future than in the month of January. Over the past number of years we’ve seen the marketing industry both progress and fragment; and technology has been the driving force behind many of these changes. As marketers, it would be fair to say we’ve all wondered not only what’s next; but also what does it mean – for media; for marketing and also for wider society. 

It would be easy for us to look at these changes solely through the media lens and predict the possible after effects. However this would be short-sighted; it would not show the full story. It is more beneficial, not only for ourselves but for the wider marketing industry, to take a more holistic approach. What kind of impact are the latest advances in technology going to have not only on our industry, but also on our daily lives; as consumer behaviour inevitably evolves?

It is human nature to be intrigued by the future – and this is especially true when it comes to new innovations and technologies. In this industry especially, we’re all dying to know what’s next. The rate of change is so fast that we get bored easily. We also have a stronger propensity than the rest of the population to want to be ahead of the curve! Getting a sneak peek into what’s coming down the line in tech both inspires us and gives us food for thought as we look for new ways of communicating with consumers.

While technological advances are always interesting and undoubtedly have an effect on the marketing landscape and our economy, it is important not to overlook the more long-term impact on society as a whole. One particularly interesting field that is beginning to develop is Cyber Psychology; which can be defined as the psychological phenomena associated with emerging technologies. It delves into the impact that the online world and newly emerging technologies have on human behaviour. It might sound far-fetched right now; but this is really important for us to understand: consumer habits have always been changing and evolving over time, but now the world around us keeps moving forward at a much faster pace than ever before. If we can understand more about the effect technology is having on consumers and their daily lives, we can create better communications and find more relevant and meaningful ways to reach them.

The first Marketing Breakfast of the year next Wednesday morning (18th January), will see a panel of four experts from a variety of backgrounds debate the innovations, challenges and subsequent behavioural changes we’re likely to see over the next 12-18 months. Conor Murphy, MD of Vizeum, will be giving us an insight into what kind of advertising and media landscape we will soon be facing and what kind of challenges it will bring. Hannah Barton, Cyber Psychologist at IADT, brings her unique knowledge of online behaviour to the table and will discuss not only what we in the marketing business need to understand about digital consumer habits; but also how these habits are set to evolve in the near future. From Google, Eimear Hennessey will be joining us to share her thoughts on what kind of new technologies we can expect to see (and even the ones we can’t yet imagine) – plus how consumer behaviour shapes the technologies that are developed. Last but not least we have the RTÉ journalist Conor Brophy, who will weigh in on what he thinks will be some of the key drivers of change this year – for Ireland, for our economy, and for business – and how they can be managed from a marketing perspective.

There is no denying that 2016 brought about unprecedented change. We hope you can join us next Wednesday morning to dust off the cobwebs and take a look forward into 2017 to see what’s in store!

Book your seat now at


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A Day In The Life Of... Don Nugent, Centre Director at Dundrum Town Centre

Posted By The Marketing Institute, Wednesday 11 January 2017
Updated: Friday 6 January 2017

Welcome to the second issue of our Day in the Life series, a new initiative from the Marketing Institute for 2017, which profiles our members.

Today, we are talking to Don Nugent, Centre Director at Dundrum Town Centre.

Don discusses his role, how he got there and the many challenges involved in running a retail centre.

The Marketing Institute: Describe a typical working day  in your role. 

Don Nugent: As Centre Director of Dundrum Town Centre there is no such thing as a typical day. That, in fact, is one of the great things about this industry – no two days are the same!

I like to get into the office around 6am. This gives me a chance to deal with any outstanding emails or reports in a bit of peace and quiet before the phones start ringing and the hustle and bustle of the day begins. The Centre is already a hive of activity with retailers, the cleaning team, security staff and the car park crew all gearing up for the day ahead. By 7.30 or so I am usually on the mall to make sure that we have our best foot forward and ready to welcome our customers for the day. 

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

D.N: Supported by a marketing qualification, I was fortunate to gain experience in Switzers (now Brown Thomas) and Clerys department stores over the years as well as launching The Square in Tallaght back in 1990 along with 7 years in Dunnes Stores head office prior to coming to Dundrum Town Centre. My experience has been across department store sales and buying responsibilities, merchandise and general management roles, heading up the Home division in Dunnes buying office as well as shopping centre management over those years. This has given me a good grounding and experience across many aspects of retail which I have been able to bring to Dundrum.

MII: What does a Centre Director at Dundrum Town Centre do? 

D.N: I allocate an amount of my time each week on the shop floor which I spend talking to store managers or meeting with area managers in relation to the business performances and discussing potential marketing opportunities to support the brands. This is critical in understanding how the businesses are performing. I like to refer to Dundrum as one big department store with 170 departments. Liaising with our tenants and understanding how their businesses are performing and pre-empting any issues before they become a problem is a key part of what a centre management team does.

We try to keep meetings as brief as possible. We have a number of ‘fixed’ meetings in the diary each week including strategy, marketing, tenant, security and lettings. Other regular meetings are also necessary as we need to constantly review technical facilities, customer facilities, customer service programmes, housekeeping regimes, our gift card business, and, needless to say, our budgets. 

Marketing initiatives are key in creating a sense of theatre in Dundrum. We must remain creative in terms of events and activities and adding to the customer experience. Above- and below-the-line initiatives all form part of the strategy but the tactical execution is paramount in delivering that quality experience. Social media has played an important part in our engagement with the audience. With over 177,000 Facebook fans and more than 44,500 Twitter followers with a high level of engagement makes it very important that we manage the tone and quality of that engagement.

Also, at least one ‘new to market’ store or restaurant has opened every year since opening. When Dundrum opened in 2005, there were 21 new to market brands in the tenant mix. This strategy is vital in maintaining the Centre’s points of difference and we expect this to continue into the future.

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

D.N: One of the challenges in this type of industry is maintaining points of difference and introducing initiatives to ensure that customers enjoy the experience and, most importantly, come back. Many such initiatives have been introduced over the years. There is no shortage of (positive) challenges in Dundrum Town Centre, not least of which is the scope for future development of the scheme. This offers great opportunities in adding to the tenant and leisure mix going forward.

Managing and coordinating the myriad aspects that are involved in running a business like this can be challenging so it is imperative that you build a good team around you who will strive for the same standards as you do in your leadership role. I am fortunate to have such a team.


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

D.N: In order to make the role effective, leadership and attention to detail are paramount. My key role is to nurture that ethos of quality across the tenant mix and the Centre itself, to keep raising the bar so that none of us becomes the least bit complacent. We work in a very competitive environment and we must continually look at ways to be different and innovative. The team often hear me saying “If you think you’re at the top of the hill, there’s only one way to go!” We have to keep climbing, raising the standards and paying close attention to the detail. The attention to detail can be the difference between failure and success. Indeed, sometimes you have to be prepared to keep chipping away if you believe something is right for your business and be prepared to keep questioning when you are told something cannot be done! That will be a major contributor to maintaining and growing your market position.

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The 2016 Sponsorship Review - Part 2

Posted By Livewire, Monday 9 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.


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. 


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.



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 -, 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.



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.



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 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.


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A Day In The Life Of... Ann Daly, Head of Marketing at National Museum of Ireland

Posted By The Marketing Institute, Wednesday 4 January 2017
Updated: Wednesday 21 December 2016


Welcome to our Day In The Life series, a new initiative from the Marketing Institute in which we've asked some of our Members to share what it is like to be in their shoes. 

They've accepted to tell us about their role, key career moves, daily challenges and aspirations so that our readers can benefit from these great marketers' experience.

Today, we are talking to Ann Daly, Head of Marketing at the National Museum of Ireland.

Ann Daly

The Marketing Institute: What does a head of marketing do?

Ann Daly: As Head of Marketing, I am responsible for devising the marketing strategy, as well as the management and implementation of the marketing plans for all four sites (3 in Dublin and 1 in co. Mayo) of the National Museum of Ireland i.e.

National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology, Kildare Street

National Museum of Ireland – Natural History, Merrion Street

National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts & History, Collins Barracks

National Museum of Ireland – Country Life, Castlebar, co. Mayo.

I work with a small but fantastic team and we are responsible for communications to the general public and media – with a delivery of service to over 1 million actual visitors per annum.   Ultimately this means ensuring developing strong “brand awareness” of the institution to all target segments.


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

A.D: Prior to working in the National Museum of Ireland, I worked with Diageo Ireland (formerly, Guinness Ireland ltd.)  in a number of brand and marketing roles across the beer sector.  It was (and still is) a fantastic progressive company which was very market and customer focused.   It afforded great opportunities to those of us who wanted to progress on a marketing career path for which i am extremely grateful.


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

A.D: There are a number of them:

  • Managing expectations of the public – in this era of instant communication and the democratisation of information and it is a challenge to provide a quality service at all times.
  • Digital communications – the world has changed with the onset of digital and social media communication platforms and it can be a challenge to keep pace with this ever changing environment.
  • Resources – since the economic downturn – going back to 2008, our budgets and staffing levels have been reduced very significantly so the challenge is to constantly be creative and to deliver a quality service – despite this.
  • Ensuring that our exhibitions and public programming appeal to both national and international visitors.


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

A.D: Strategic thinking, resilience, sense of urgency, attention to detail and the ability to stand back and look at the bigger picture.   In addition, the ability to embrace social media and new ways of communicating with the various visitor segments – including media.  It is also essential to be able to work with teams from disparate disciplines especially with my colleagues from the Curatorial, Education and other Museum Departments who deliver sterling exhibitions and public programmes.


MII: Describe a typical working day.

A.D: I am sure if you ask the question of anyone working in marketing (irrespective of their level); they will tell you there is no typical day!   Marketing is fast paced and challenging.    Being responsible for the marketing of the 4 individual sites of the National Museum of Ireland is similar to marketing 4 individual brands.   Each site has its own requirements whether it’s the marketing of the actual sites, exhibitions, galleries or public engagement programme – each project has to be tailor made to the needs of the relevant visitor segment.   This involves working with internal stakeholders as mentioned above as well as external partners. 


MII: What do you love most about your role?

A.D: There is excitement and energy in working with a very diverse range of colleagues from very different disciplines – both specialist and general which - results in the delivery of high quality exhibitions and public programming.  In addition, it is very motivating to see that the delivery of work from my Team and me has had an impact resulting with an increase in visitor numbers along with the positive feedback from the public.  That means we have done a good job.


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

A.D: As someone who has always been interested in Arts, Heritage and Culture, it was always my aspiration to work in this area.   I see myself remaining in marketing and consider it a privilege to work on the promotion of culture within the National Museum of Ireland.


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

A.D: I work very closely with our tourism partners i.e. Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland.   They have been of enormous support to us in the promotion of our 4 sites.   They have been very responsive to the changing environment of marketing and have guided us through those changes for which I am very grateful.   In addition, RTE, as the National Broadcaster, has been very supportive in the promotion of the National Museum through their Supporting The Arts Scheme. This has been of immense value to us in these challenging times. 


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The 2016 Sponsorship Review - Part 1

Posted By Livewire, Wednesday 4 January 2017
Updated: Tuesday 3 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


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. 




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.



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. 



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. 



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 and 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. 



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 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.



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