Wednesday 26 June 2019

Women scoring own goal 'by failing to back their own sports'

Fact-finding: Declan McBennett, head of group sport at RTÉ, said the lack of backing for women’s sport was holding it back. Photo: Naoise Culhane Photography
Fact-finding: Declan McBennett, head of group sport at RTÉ, said the lack of backing for women’s sport was holding it back. Photo: Naoise Culhane Photography

Michael Cullen

Irish women only have themselves to blame for limiting their prospects in sport because they don't get behind their own sports enough - they support men's sport, RTÉ group head of sport Declan McBennett has said. Addressing a Marketing Institute-Onside sponsorship conference in the Aviva Stadium on the future of sports broadcasting, McBennett insisted it wasn't him being controversial - it's a fact.

SoftCo deserves special kudos for sponsoring Ireland's World Cup women's hockey team and it cost the company no more than €40,000. Alluding to the enduring love-hate relationship between TV editorial and commercial departments, McBennett admitted he has knowledge of but not necessarily affection for the role sponsorship, ad breaks and competitions play in bringing major sports to audiences.

With rights negotiations proving ever more costly and competitive, broadcasters must ask, is sport about revenue or exposure? Where's the audience? Where's the next generation? The Uefa Champions League is worth €32bn and the final is the world's third-biggest TV sports event after the Olympics and the Fifa World Cup.

Major brands are pitched against top stars - the Messis, Ronaldos and Mbappes. Only seven out of the 54 national broadcasters now show Champions League games free to air. Are viewers being short-changed? Where will tomorrow's youngsters get their inspiration? Where's the exposure to create future sporting heroes?

Golf and boxing look to box-office subscriptions for major events. But when cricket went behind the paywall, audiences crashed. Football numbers in the UK are flagging. McBennett pointed to the GAA in promoting community and affinity. He said AIG, Supermac's and Chill have earned strong dividends from backing the Dublin, Galway and Cork county teams.

Olympic rower Gary O'Donovan said the dream for a sportsman like him was "not to be on the telly", it's to win medals. "People think more of it than we do - it's no big deal to us," O'Donovan remarked. While he was conscious of supporting his sponsors, FBD, Visa and Bord Bia, winning medals - especially Olympic honours - is the best way to do it.

In an online study of this summer's sports sponsorships, based on online interviews with Marketing Institute members, AIB's GAA support topped the list for the third year in a row. Lidl's ladies Gaelic football came second, with SoftCo's support for Ireland's World Cup women's hockey team ranking third.

Coca-Cola sent the frighteners up tea and coffee brand owners some years ago with scantily-clad hunks in ads espousing the virtues of a Diet Coke break. The Cola run was challenged by a new trend in coffee-making machines at work and in homes. Now Nestle's coffee capsule brand Nespresso - made famous by Hollywood heartthrob George Clooney - has a report out on the value of coffee breaks at work.

The ComRes study of 2,772 adults in the UK and Ireland claims 75pc of Irish employees feel more productive after a coffee break. 80pc of staff believe that quality coffee in the office shows employers care about staff welfare. Nespresso also reports that coffee breaks help build stronger work relationships, reduce stress levels and perk them up. Makes them feel a little more grounded, no doubt.

Boys + Girls co-founder and partner Chris Upton is leaving the agency to do an MBA at the Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School. Before helping to set up Boys + Girls, Upton was a director of McConnells for eight years. He is the incoming chairman of the Marketing Society and has lectured on marketing at DIT.

Ford's decision to appoint Omnicom's BBDO network as its lead creative agency worldwide in place of WPP will have no immediate impact on the car brand's Irish agency. Ogilvy managing director Jane Gregory assured Adlib that despite the Ford changes overseas, it's business as usual in Ireland.

And finally ... Impressionist and satirist Oliver Callan of 'Callan's Kicks' fame returns as the MC for the Irish Magazine Awards, which will be presented at the Lansdowne Rugby Club premises beside the Aviva Stadium on Thursday, November 28.

Michael Cullen is editor of;

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