On the cusp of a fourth All Ireland in five years as Dublin’s main sponsor, AIG could be forgiven for thinking it will always be like this, in the same way as young fans can barely remember a time when Molly Malone wasn’t a staple come Final day.
The reality is though that in sport nothing is a given. It’s only through hard work, smart execution and knowing the game plan that you get a shot at success.
AIG Sponsorship Manager John Gillick is acutely aware of that and his team is as prepared coming into the weekend as Jim Gavin’s.
Sport for Business grabbed him for a coffee amid the madness this week to check in on the state of play with the current Sport Industry Awards Sponsor of the Year.
The big news this year has been extending your partnership by another five years. It’s clearly working. How do you judge the success?
There are three key objectives we judge the sponsorship against on a continuing basis. What does it do for our business? What does it do for our brand? and this year in a more meaningful way than ever before what it does for our sense of community.
We look at what worked well the previous year and we look to develop those. We also looked at what might have taken up too much resource and which didn’t quite catch the moment and we move on from them.
We are always looking to add new elements to the mix, mindful of our own changing objectives as a business and also the new channels that are becoming available to us as a sponsor.
That area of CSR then has been the main shift in 2018?
It was an area we wanted to look at more closely. We have always done a lot but never with as much cohesion as we are now bringing to it. The way we operate within the community is important to AIG globally and that got us thinking about what way we could do good using our existing strong sponsorship assets.
We felt that a closer connection to our internal CSR group would allow us to make more of what we had and create something that could be a bit special.
We started to develop our AIG Heroes programme and we are working closely with Dublin City Council’s North East Inner City.
We supported sending 50 young local people over to Liverpool as part of the Tall Ships Festival and that was a great experience for them.
And you had a jersey ‘give away with a difference this year?
Aoibheanns Pink Tie was selected by our staff as our main charity partner this year and we gave over the jersey sponsorship across each of the four codes of Football, Ladies Football, Hurling and Camogie.
It has really had an impact internally, seeing the great work that the team does in such impossible circumstances and has been a great experience for us and hopefully for them.
Has the summer of Hurling overshadowed the Football this year?
Ah sure as sports people we always want the competition to be as strong as possible. The hurling was exceptional this year but there is a new dynamic in football and that has to be taken into account before rushing to any over the top reactions.
The introduction of more games, bringing everything forward into August and the strength of Dublin have all been spoken about but you really need to see the structural changes over time.
Nobody was giving out about football after last year’s brilliant final and I can tell you demand for tickets for Sunday has been as strong as ever.
Was it good getting Dublin out on the road?
Yes for sure. It was a great atmosphere and the biggest test Dublin have faced. The team has no problem facing challenges and it did give a different buzz in July.
Ladies Football has really taken off over the past 12 months, has that been important?
It was a watershed to get such a big crowd last year. We are committed to equality and have always looked to hero the women’s teams and players as much as the men.
Whenever a team gets to an All Ireland Final its natural they get more attention and more activation. When Blues Sisters came out it pushed this group on again in terms of the public credit for what they are about.
We worked with Sport for Business on the Game Changer Network and that has been a real positive. We will be back with that again now after the All Ireland season.
Green Light for Girls is another initiative here, promoting educational opportunities for girls in science and technology. We’ve brought together the Dublin players like Noelle Healy who is a doctor as well as Footballer of the Year and she came in to speak to the girls. We are doing what we can to promote the power of role models.
What have you got planned for this weekend?
We have a major hospitality event here in the office but we are limited in what we can do at Croke Park so the focus is on the mass audience of social media and digital.
That’s where we have concentrated our resource running #BackingEveryStep across all the channels and we have had giveaways and some great new content.