At a glance: deals and moves in the Irish sponsorship market and beyond for the month of MAY
May was an extremely busy month in sponsorship, both in Ireland and in a global sense. We saw a number of major deals announced, particularly in broadcast and sports.
We start with the Guinness Pro 12 final, in which the Scarlets defeated Munster at the end of May. While the result was not to the liking of the majority of fans in the stadium, those in attendance were treated to some interesting activations by sponsors.
Title sponsors Guinness ran a number of exciting activations across the weekend. A secret gig with Hermitage Green on the night before the final whetted the appetite but the centerpiece of the brand’s activity was surely the Take Your Local to the Final competition. 24 lucky winners were able to watch the game in style from a corporate box decked out like their local pub. Finals sponsors Energia and Mazda also offered fans a chance to put their skills to the test in a matchday Rugby Zone in Herbert Park.
Guinness’ activations allowed them to reach important trade customers in pubs across the country, while the final marked the first opportunity for new partners Energia and Mazda to engage with fans. While Engeria is making its first steps into rugby sponsorship, Mazda’s deal with the Pro 12 follows on from its jersey sponsorship of Connacht in recent seasons.
May was a busy month in women’s Gaelic football, with broadcast and competition sponsorships announced.
Sona, a vitamin and nutritional supplement provider, has been announced as the sponsor of TG4’s coverage of Peil na mBan. Through this sponsorship, the brand aims to actively support optimizing health and fitness in Irish sport, as well as underlining their commitment to Irish communities.
Meanwhile, Intel and AIB have signed on as sponsors of the new Ladies Interfirm competition, run by the LGFA. The seven a side competition will be played out with panels that have no more than 12 players though companies can enter more than one team if there is demand. It is hoped that the competition will provide a path back into the game for those who may have lapsed.
Interest in women’s sport continues to grow rapidly and it is telling that a brand such as Sona is attempting to build awareness through a sponsorship of ladies’ football, a sport which has seen a huge growth in popularity in recent years. New competitions such as the LGFA Interfirms further support the notion of growing demand from those playing and watching the sport, while AIB’s involvement is just the latest step in the brand’s attempt to fully own the GAA space. Intel’s involvement is interesting and points to the increased focus being placed on the recruitment of females in the science and technology sector.
Ambitious League of Ireland club Cabinteely FC geared up for a friendly with the New Zealand international team by announcing two new deals in May; Sherry Fitzgerald renewed its sponsorship which sees the estate agents’ logo appearing on the sleeve of Cabinteely’s jersey, while Nissan were announced as sponsors of club’s Mini World Cup, an underage football tournament which will raise funds for the ISPCC.
While the Irish sports market as a whole remains rather cluttered, smaller rights holders such as Cabinteely and other League of Ireland clubs may be able to satisfy brands’ demand for sports properties if they can provide the right kind of platforms.
A good example of such a rights holder is English non-league club Dulwich Hamlet. The side has garnered huge publicity in recent years through a commitment to community activism and its most recent sponsorship deal is further evidence of this ethos.
The club has signed start-up PicFair as its main jersey sponsor. The image licensing company is attempting to challenge the might of big industry players like Getty by helping both amateur and professional photographers license their images to global publishers while allowing them to keep full control of their royalties.
In international news, this month saw Rory McIlroy sign a £100m, ten-year deal with TaylorMade which will see McIlroy exclusively use the company’s clubs, balls and golf bag. The 4-time major winner had previously signed a £200m extension to an apparel deal with Nike; some reports suggest that the TaylorMade deal may see McIlroy forfeit some of the money from the Nike deal.
McIlroy was recently listed by Forbes as the 6th richest sports star in the world; earning $50m. This makes making him the only Irishman in the top 20 and behind only the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and LeBron James.
Two major European football teams announced somewhat unusual deals this month.
Liverpool FC announced baby products manufacturer Joie as the club’s first family partner. The three-year deal will cover the 2017-18 to 2019-20 seasons. Joie will also serve as Liverpool’s global baby gear partner. Under the agreement, Joie will launch a range of Liverpool-branded baby products in 2018. The two parties will also work together to deliver a range of family-focused events, while Joie will benefit from promotion across Liverpool’s social media channels, as well as access to current and former players for promotional campaigns.
Italy’s SSC Napoli this month became the first football team to partner with dating app Tinder. The team have set up their star striker Arek Milik on the service, giving supporters a chance to connect with the Polish international. Milik has recently returned from a knee injury, and Napoli fans will be able to match with him on Tinder by sending a message to wish him well on his return. The forward will then pick his four favourite messages and invite the fans to meet him in person.
Partnerships such as Napoli’s with Tinder and Liverpool’s with Joie shows the sophistication of the commercial teams in Europe’s major teams; the creation of rights, assets and platforms which clubs can offer to brands helps to maximise sponsorship revenue, while also reducing the exposure of the most valuable assets available to the rights holder.
May was an interesting month in the Irish broadcast market, as two online-only shows were launched.
Maximum Media made its latest move into broadcast as it launched its Facebook Live show The Joe Show, sponsored by Unilever’s Dove Men+ Care. The show, hosted by Paddy McKenna and Eoin O’Doherty, will feature some of the most popualr JOE stories of the week, interviews with celebrities, studio guests and cash-prize audience giveaways.
RTÉ Create, meanwhile, launched a new food series, Chef Adrian Eats Ireland, on RTÉ Player. The series was created in partnership with Carr’s Crackers and is dedicated to finding the best restaurant dishes in Ireland, and showing you how to make them at home.
These online only shows, as well as Maximum Media beginning its move into the online-only broadcasting space with its SportsJoe Live earlier this year, suggests that broadcasters are laying the groundwork for a gradual shift in focus away from traditional TV. While such a move is still a significant distance away, the increasing focus on online-only content must be viewed as a statement of intent.
On TV, Homebase, the second largest home improvement retailer in the UK and Ireland is to sponsor TV3’s Saturday and Sunday AM programmes until October of this year. It is the first television sponsorship in Ireland for Homebase and will encompass traditional stings, branded content and in show promotions, as well as ownership of all digital elements.
May also saw a significant broadcast deal in the UK which may have implications for the Irish market. Food delivery app Just Eat have been announced as sponsors of the X-Factor on ITV in a deal reported to be worth £10m. The brand will sponsor the television broadcast, the X-Factor app and annual live tour. As part of the sponsorship, Just Eat will launch a nationwide “Chef Factor” hunt for takeaway cooks to star in its branded clips.
The deal could prove significant in an Irish context. Sponsorship of the X-Factor on TV3 is on the market for €500,000 and Just Eat have an established presence as sponsors of First Dates on RTÉ; could we see Just Eat mirror its activity from the UK in Ireland? The X-Factor shares an audience with First Dates, as well as an appointment viewing appeal, while having the shows broadcasting at different times of the year would allow Just Eat a presence across the calendar.
Of course, we can’t forget to outline some of the most exciting and attractive opportunities that are currently available in the market.
The Ray D’Arcy Show will return to RTÉ this September and is seeking a sponsor for its new series. With an emphasis on fun Saturday night entertainment, the show will include Irish and international celebrity interviews, strong human interest stories and comedy, as well as music from both well established and emerging talent. The package includes the broadcast sponsorship, branding on all promos and sponsorship of catch-up on RTÉ Player.
Also in televison, TV3 is bringing legendary dating show Blind Dates back to our screens this autumn. The show will be hosted by comedian and Today FM presenter Al Porter, who will play matchmaker as a series of single Irish men and women look for love. The package includes broadcast sponsorship, a branded launch party and digital support, as well as the potential for in-store activations, product placement and access to talent.
We turn to radio for our final opportunity this month, with Urban Media seeking a sponsor for the Martin King Show on Q102. Airing daily from 9am to 2pm, Martin supplies the musical soundtrack to your work day with quirky stories, celebrity news and the Dublin happenings that you just might miss. The package includes broadcast sponsorship and promos across the Q102 schedule.