20 Years of Ulster and Bank of Ireland

On Friday night Ulster Rugby celebrated the 20th anniversary of its sponsorship partnership with Bank of Ireland.  For many in the game of sponsorship it is the renewal rather than the initial deal that causes the greatest satisfaction as it clearly means something is being done well.

Today Fiona Hampton, Head of Sales and Marketing at Ulster Rugby reflects with us on the importance of a winning partnership and how that has been the case down the years.

“As Bank of Ireland celebrate 20 years with us it is an apt time to reflect on the Sponsors that Ulster rugby has attained over the years. We talk about strength and depth of squad size, but as one of our major stakeholder groups it is equally important to have this in the sponsorship portfolio.”

“It is obviously critical to the commercial success and viability of any club to have a number of key sponsors committed to long term contracts that deliver financial stability, but where a sponsorship will live or die is in the ability to work as a partnership.”

“It is really a privilege to work with a partner such as Bank of Ireland who share in the same vision, demonstrate the same passion and commitment, and fundamentality are striving for the same goals, with the knowledge that this will deliver for both partners.”

“Bank of Ireland, a stalwart as Shirt Sponsor to Ulster Rugby, have been committed to delivering unique experiences for our supporters visible through their delivery of fan trips, masterclasses for schools, community group giveaways, and customer training days to name but a few.”

“The sponsorship model at Ulster Rugby allows us to work with a number of partners who have the exclusive rights within their sector, therefore ensuring that we can deliver back for them in terms of brand awareness, unique experiences, player appearances, tickets and hospitality in an undiluted space.”

“A tribute to this success is again our long term status with some of these key sponsors such as Kukri Sports, who as Official Technical Kit supplier and Retailer have been an exclusive sponsor for 10 years.”

“Kingspan as Stadium Naming sponsor and Main Shirt sponsor have again been involved with Ulster Rugby for over 9 years growing from an advertising partner, to a short sponsor to eventually attaining the main sponsor rights.”

“Again this has only been feasible through a long term working partnership.  Other exclusive categories are tied up by BT Sport and Go Power both as Official Shirt Sponsors, Bavarian BMW as Official Car Partner and Dale Farm as Official Diary Partner and Short Sponsor.”

“A number of key partners that we work with that really enable us to deliver the match night experience that we are well known for, and demonstrated through our winning the Tourism Northern Ireland award for Best Event Experience at the Ulster V Clermont match last season.”

“We have the award winning Mount Charles as bar partner, the gastronomic leaders in event catering in Yellow Door, and long established supply partners in RiverRock and Heineken ensuring product in stadium is in line with best in experience.”

“Our transport partner Fonacab provide the only in stadium taxi service I have yet to see in any stadium, again highlighting our strength to work together to deliver that unique experience for fans.”

“It is equally important to have the ability to continue to attract new sponsors. It brings some fresh perspective and new ideas into the fold and in many cases this category of sponsor will be those that will grow and develop in partnership with Ulster Rugby and continue to be with us for many years to come.”

“Abbey Insurance, sponsors of the Academy and the Family Stand have delighted fans, young and old, with the creation of a new friend for Sparky, aptly named ‘Abbey’ who of course is a large bumblebee! Subway are entertaining us at half-time and also sponsor the Subway Summer Camps which takes Ulster Rugby training camps across the province. Tobermore have taken pride of place as a new sponsor on the kit, and on the back of a very successful Women’s Rugby World Cup it is great to see Deloitte take up sponsorship of the Ulster Women’s team.”

“Our strength lies in having so many long term, major brands as sponsors, working with us in partnership and also depth in that we have the right number of partners across the breadth of the sponsorship portfolio that are active and committed to the cause.”

I would like to thank all our sponsors for their continued support. It is a partnership and we must be doing something right as 20 years is a long time to be partners, but we are looking forward to the next 20.”

Those simple words of thanks are sometimes overlooked and yet can make a really important impact on long term relationships, as has clearly been the case with Ulster Rugby.

Ulster Rugby, Bank of Ireland and Heineken are among the more than 230 organisations that are part of the Sport for Business community

Sport for Business will host over 20 events with our members in 2018 providing exclusive insight on the relationships that work best for sport and business.

What could we do together for your organisation?

Image Credit: Inpho

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