Brewing up a storm: why Euro 2016 is the big winner this year
The Three Ireland television ad for Euro 2016, 'Make History', aired for the first time on Wednesday evening and it packed quite a punch, if the highly enthusiastic social media response was anything to go by.
As an exercise in generating excitement for Ireland's participation in the tournament, the Dublin-based agency Boys and Girls certainly delivered with shots evoking a land where football fever had taken hold and everybody appears to be making to France for the matches by whatever mode of transport possible. And all to the rousing strains of 'Brewing Up a Storm', the 1990 hit from Galway rockers the Stunning.
It's the first significant strike of what's likely to be a deluge of ads between now and June 10 when the championships kick off. "Euro 2016 is a huge opportunity for brands to engage with the Irish football story," says Tony Frawley, of 2020MBV. "Already, Three have done very well in leveraging their sponsorship of the team with a TV ad that evokes nostalgia for the glory days of the past." Jack Charlton, manager during the halcyon period of Euro 88, Italia 90 and USA 94, makes a cameo appearance.
"Brands will want to tap into that feel-good factor," Frawley says, "and the FAI will see the tournament and the build-up to it as the perfect time to capitalise on the value and equity of their brand."
John Trainor of Onside, the sponsorship consultancy, says there is far more brand interest in Euro 2016 than there was in the tournament four years ago - one few Irish football fans care to remember, considering the abject performances of Giovanni Trapattoni's side in the three heavy defeats.
"Our data shows that 45pc of brands had an interest in the football market in the run up to Euro 2012," Trainor says, "but that figure has jumped to 80pc for this tournament."
A buoyant economic climate, compared to four years ago, coupled with a greater sense of optimism about what a squad under the command of Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane could achieve, appears to be exciting both sponsors and fans, according to Rob Hartnett of Sport for Business. "And," he quips, "people are likely to spend more when they're happy."
One of the items the FAI will be hoping fans will snap up is the new away shirt, which will be launched by kit maker Umbro on Friday.
Typically, in a year in which the national side makes it to a major tournament, team apparel sales jump six-fold. The response to the new home kit, launched last month, was largely positive and retailers report it has been selling well.
The FAI has done much to maximise the brand potential of Ireland's national team and have partnership deals with no fewer than 17 brands, including the aforementioned Three and Umbro and the likes of Ford and Carlsberg. But in such a crowded sponsorship market, John Trainor says there's no guarantee that all of those brands can truly get the most out of their investment.
"You'd have anywhere between two and five brands that will really make an impact," he says, "and between 10 and 15 that won't. You have to remember that it's not just other FAI partners you're competing with to get your message out but the brands that Uefa have partnered with and also all those brands who aren't official sponsors but want a piece of the football action."
Irish brands, Trainor says, typically spend 67c for every euro committed to a contract to make "brand activation" work. The international figure can be as much as €1.50 for every euro spent. But even with such an outlay, brands have to play smart in order to cut through the noise.
"Aer Lingus partnered with the IRFU last year and really made an impact around the Rugby World Cup.
"It's not always the biggest spenders that do best or the ones that make most noise," he adds, "but the ones who think differently and truly make a connection with the consumer."