Thursday 29 September 2016

Sponsorship and marketing prowess puts the Dubs in league of their own

The potential for a clash of loyalties between brand and county has not stood in the way of The Dubs bagging high-profile sponsors

Samantha McCaughren

Published 18/09/2016 | 02:30

While most teams manage to snare one main sponsor, Dublin GAA has succeeded in bringing in other sponsors under AIG to support the team
While most teams manage to snare one main sponsor, Dublin GAA has succeeded in bringing in other sponsors under AIG to support the team

Getting into bed with Dublin GAA is a difficult decision for a national brand. Hundreds of thousands of fans may love you as a result but there is a chance that even more consumers will be turned off by a brand's cosy relationship with the Dubs.

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Nothing brings out county rivalries like an All-Ireland Football Final, and aligning a brand with any county is a delicate balancing act for prospective sponsors.

This potential for a clash of loyalties between brand and county has not stood in the way of the Dubs sponsorship success, with industy experts Onside Sponsorship citing its sponsorship model as best practice.

While most teams manage to snare one main sponsor, Dublin GAA has succeeded in bringing in other sponsors under AIG to support the team.

The team has gathered a clutch of very active brands, which do some of the team's heavy lifting.

Active sponsors help drum up the team's support among the fan base and help to build the brand. The county and the sponsor both win by boosting the profile.

The milestone for national GAA sponsorship came in 1995, with Guinness and Bank of Ireland both coming on board on a national level.

Guinness in particular raised the profile of GAA with its support of hurling - so much so that the GAA feared that it was becoming too powerful.

So the GAA decided to break up the sponsorship, bringing in three sponsors for both football and hurling.

With all this happening on a national level, it was only a matter of time before some of the more successful county teams would catch the eye of bigger name brands.

For 18 years, Dublin GAA had a relationship with Arnotts. It worked well, aligning a well-loved Dublin retail brand with the county team.

However, as the interest in GAA endorsements grew, it was inevitable that the team would outgrow that arrangement and move on to more lucrative pastures.

Although the recession was beginning to bite in 2009, Vodafone came on board as a new international sponsor.

While Dublin fans might have felt that the county was swapping local support for a faceless international endorsement, it provided huge financial support and propelled the Dubs into a new league in marketing terms.

The appointment of a full-time marketing manager in the form of Tomás 'Mossy' Quinn showed Dublin's commitment to marketing, and sponsors and market insiders said that the county now has a reputation as an excellent sponsorship partner.

On the media rights front, the GAA has also spread its wings, moving on from RTE to TV3 and even British broadccaster Sky in recent years as it maximises its commerical revenues.

So what is next on the cards for Dublin GAA? Some believe naming rights for Parnell Park, which is the latest big thing in sports sponsorship. However, there are mixed views in the industry as to the value of such an arrangement for Dublin.

But given Dublin's past form, it will continue to ensure it is scoring all the revenue it can from sponsorship and marketing.

Sunday Indo Business

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