Euro 2016 fever is taking hold already - among the sponsors
It's 41 days until Europe's biggest football tournament kicks off, but the corporate sponsors have begun launching their marketing campaigns
The pre-Euro 2016 warm-up for brands and sponsors has officially started in the marketing world.
Following months of behind-the-scenes talks about brand positioning, creative execution, PR activities, fan engagement, activation and media planning, D-Day is rapidly approaching for the multitude of brands and sponsors who have ploughed their faith and their money into football over the past few years. This is the one they've been waiting for.
The biggest sponsor of Irish football, the mobile phone operator Three, kicked off last week with what will be the biggest marketing campaign of all the Irish brands associated with the tournament.
With an investment of €8.9m in Irish soccer up until the end of 2020, Three's new multi-channel campaign will probably set the tone for much of the planned activity over the next two months.
Created by the Dublin agency Boys and Girls and with the tagline #MakeHistory, the TV ad is set to the background track of Brewing Up A Storm, the 1990s song by Galway band The Stunning, and it serves as a rallying call to supporters to get behind the team. In a nod to the Republic of Ireland's victory over England in Stuttgart in 1988, there's even a cameo appearance by St Jack Charlton.
For veteran supporters of previous tournaments, it has all the usual ingredients of anticipation, nostalgia and pride.
Of course, there's nothing like an international sporting tournament to bring out the best in brands as they attempt to put their best foot forward in front of the estimated 2.5 million fans who will attend the matches, not to mention the eight billion people who are expected to watch it around the world.
And of course there's big money at stake for everyone concerned.
It's estimated that the tournament will be worth in excess of €2bn to UEFA. Around €1bn of this will be derived from TV rights, sponsorship will bring in around €400m, with another €500m coming from ticketing and hospitality.
When the kitty is eventually divvied up after the tournament, a minimum of €12m will go towards replenishing the depleted coffers of the Football Association of Ireland with an additional €1m for every match the team wins.
World football has been dragged through the mire over the past few years, and the relationship between sponsors and football has been severely put to the test over the last 12 months.
While much of the focus has centred on FIFA, UEFA hasn't emerged entirely unscathed, and the whiff of cordite still lingers in its Nyon HQ following the eight-year ban on former president Michel Platini and the recent raid on its offices by Swiss police investigating TV rights deals by former executives.
Still, the show must go on.
The tournament's 15-strong panel of sponsors include headline backers such as French telecoms company Orange (which is using Zinedine Zidane, the former French captain and hero/villain of the 2006 World Cup Final, to spearhead its campaign). It also includes the German sportswear manufacturer Adidas and the Danish brewer Carlsberg (which, quelle surprise, is using 'Great Dane' Peter Schmeichel to front its ads).
Then there is Coca Cola, a long-standing sponsor of football, while McDonald's, Continental Tyres, Hyundai, Turkish Airlines, Credit Agricole, Chinese electronics manufacturer Hisense and, believe it or not, the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan, make up the rest of the heavyweight list of sponsors.
If you haven't heard of these brands by now, you will by the end of July.
With Three the most visible brand in Ireland looking to cash in on Euro 2016, a total of 16 other sponsors who have deals in place with the FAI are also licking their lips in eager anticipation of the contest as they finalise details of their own campaign activations.
These include the likes of shirt sponsor Umbro, Ford, Carlsberg, Lucozade Sport, Bank of Ireland, Nivea, CityJet, Spar, Aviva, the Irish Independent, DHL, Celtic Pure and Aviva.
Whether or not the Republic of Ireland manage to win any of their games against Sweden, Belgium and Italy, one thing is sure: this is the moment sponsors have been waiting for and their investment will have reaped some dividends.
As for the FAI and UEFA, another big pay day looms large on the horizon.
Contact John McGee at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday Indo Business