...latest news

Sponsoring sport’s a risky business but GAA might be the exception

The All-Ireland football final, the pinnacle of every Gaelic footballer’s career puts both teams, both sets of players and management in the spotlight. The weeks leading up to the game is also a prime time for sponsors involved with both teams with additional media coverage and focus. Getting to the final weekend of the year is also a reward for sponsors, in a way, providing a big day out.

Soccer was in the spotlight during the Summer, but for all the wrong reasons.  As FIFA descended into corruption chaos, the aftershocks to the sport’s sponsors are catastrophic.  Soccer’s goodwill and the halo effect that attracted the brands to FIFA in the first instance is depleting rapidly as the news story takes hold.

Sponsoring sport always carries a risk, but usually when individual stars are involved – hence many brands’ preference for sporting categories rather than heroes.  Thorough risk assessment pre-signing is not just prudent it’s also pragmatic, allowing concerns and caveats to be aired at the outset.

Few sports are beyond reproach, especially as sport has now been elevated to the heady heights of God-like achievement and aspiration.  To many, clubs are like a religion to be followed and adored with passion, which is why certain clubs and sports attract such willing investors, but at what price and at what risk?

The GAA may just be the exception, as a brand and a sport that is reasonably removed from adverse publicity.  I’m not suggesting it’s squeaky clean in publicity terms, but it courts less chaos than other sporting factions.   There is still all the zeal, the pious fervour and the commitment that brands want to emulate, but with more opportunities – from local, to families, to national events – and less exposure.

According to the Onside Industry Survey 2015, GAA is seen to offer the best ‘value for money’ in terms of Irish sponsorships and this is the case for many reasons – not least of all is the relevance of GAA at local community and county level.  It could be argued that the ordinary ‘man on the street’ identifies with GAA stars more so than other sports stars, for an array of reasons, including the likelihood of seeing these players active in their local communities (not just on the telly!), recognising the level of dedication and commitment that’s required of amateur players, and an appreciation of the skill level of a truly unique sport.

Sponsorship is more than just a logo on a county jersey.  Sponsors demand more and the Championship delivers: providing players and management for media events, engaging with the sponsor’s own business and CSR initiatives; and offering exclusive competition prizes, can all be effective methods of maximising the value and impact of such a sponsorship asset. Experiential activity too has proven itself as a way of extracting additional value, using the available properties to leverage the brand in the eyes of existing and potential customers.

The digital space and access to social media channels adds a further important platform to sponsors. Building up digital content is an extremely effective method of engaging fans and reinforcing the association between brand and sponsor.

It’s important to consider some simple guidelines from the outset to maximise GAA sponsorships.  These include:

 

–          Undertaking a pre-sponsorship appraisal to ensure the sponsorship fits as part of an overall strategy and assess potential risks involved

–          Establishing a good relationship with all relevant stakeholders

–          Ensuring goals and objectives are outlined and agreed at the outset of the partnership

–          Creating an activity road map for the season

–          Focusing on digital elements to maximise social media and online channels

The arrests of senior FIFA officials earlier this Summer rocked the sporting world. Not only does this news obviously impact on the organisation itself, it will also have shocked existing sponsors to their core.

The GAA, whilst not beyond reproach is arguably in a safer position and less likely to bring your brand into disrepute than other sports which exist on a global scale yet having a risk assessment completed will make things a lot easier if crisis strikes.

Sponsor’s goals and objectives will have been set in the hope of teams reaching an All-Ireland final with activity often planned around it engaging with target audiences. A lot of hard work will have gone into in the weeks running up to this weekend. Ultimately, getting to the All-Ireland final is a bonus every sponsor can enjoy.

Comments are closed.