The management and players have been preparing for Sunday’s All Ireland Football Final all year, and in many cases for all their adult lives. There is though a huge supporting cast for whom the day is a massive one as well. This year is unique in that the same two counties will be back for more seven days later in the final of the TG4 All Ireland Ladies Final.
Today on Sport for Business we talk to the Sponsorship Managers of AIG and Elverys Intersport whose brands will adorn the shirts of the stars and whose job it is to make sure that translates into a winning return on their investment.
Let’s throw the ball in then between John Gillick from AIG and Dublin and Anne-Marie Hanley from Elverys Intersport and Mayo
SfB: How many years have you been partners of your county?
A-MH: Since 1998 the company is sponsoring Mayo GAA, and ever since! Initially under the guise of Staunton’s Intersport, then through the brand changing to Elverys and in recent years as Intersport Elverys.
JG: We have been partners since the 2014 season so 4 years in now and the time has flown.
SfB: Has the partnership been good for your business?
AM-H: Absolutely, and not just in Mayo. Our company has been and still is involved with lots of local and national teams in many sports and it has undoubtedly helped us keep maintain our leading position in the GAA market over the years.
JG: Yes it has been very positive on a number of fronts for us. Key areas where it has benefited AIG has been brand and product awareness, business inquiries, sales and retention, trust and credibility scores, employee engagement and retention, B2B relationships and corporate hospitality, social media footprint growth and around CSR initiatives like our Heroes campaign.
SfB: What has been the best moment along the way so far?
AM-H: Last year drawing with Dublin in the final and then narrowly missing out on lifting the Sam McGuire by one point was bitter sweet but probably the most memorable time for all involved.
JG: There have been many great moments to date. Watching the various Dublin teams compete and win is always great and winning the All Ireland for the first time as AIG sponsor was very special. The AIG Fenway classic in Boston was great too but for me a special moment was a visit to Temple street children’s hospital with some of the Dublin players from all teams to hand out jerseys and to see first-hand how relatively simple acts can bring such a positive experience to sick kids and their families.
The feedback from the hospital and families was great and it was a credit to the players who engaged and took pictures with the kids and made sure to go to everyone, even the very sick kids away from the main wards.
I think this experience and having my own young child has made me realise more that managing a leading sponsorship is not all about what happens on the field and what you get out of the relationship but what you also can do off the field, help give back to society and leverage the ability you have to do positive things in the community with your sponsorship in partnership with your rights holder so that was a positive moment of clarity for me to try and do more in this area with our sponsorships.
SfB: What’s your favourite piece of content you have done with the team this year?
A-MH: This year working with a number of the Mayo players along with 30+ other sports personalities from all the teams we are involved with in our ‘Where Passions Unite’ campaign was really enjoyable. They are all exceptional in their own field and you have to admire what they give to sport.
JG: That’s a tough one as we have worked hard on content around a number of fronts across different sports, from the GAA club and grassroots level right up to the leading players on all teams to help gain cut through in a cluttered and competitive space. The aim is to bring meaningful, representative, timely and engaging content to the Dublin fans, club members and the sporting public in general so if I have to pick one piece this year I will have to say the Philly McMahon piece we did recently. It was honest, real, powerful, humble and insightful that was treated and executed really well by our team.
SfB: How will you be activating the partnership ahead of this weekend?
AM-H: We have some key pieces of video and interviews, more competitions and hoping to be able to do something special in our brand new concept store in Dublin’s Henry Street which we opened this Monday! We are also getting set for a huge Ladies final the following weekend.
JG: We’ve a few things going on in between the phone ringing with ticket requests and being followed around our office by people asking when they will get their ticket but that comes with the territory and it doesn’t get any easier after 3 years in a row!
We do activation across our commercial and consumer business so we have a big match event in our offices for over 300 people. We have a new video launching this week to celebrate Dublin GAA being in the men’s and ladies finals. We will be very active on social media, doing some promo activity with our media partners, media activity, pre match preview events, match day activation and last but not least trying to get our big building banner up around new scaffolding that is causing us some technical and engineering problems!
SfB: What will your day be like on Sunday, up until 3-30 at least?
A-MH: We have a very lean team in Intersport Elverys so, as in previous years, I will be watching the game at home on my own and doing handling reactionary stuff on social.
JG: Busy and usually sorting out loose end ticketing first thing, any last minute requests or issues, any ICE (in case emergency) tickets that need to be allocated if any are left, then into the pre match event in AIG where a really good hospitality and entertainment event is put on by our commercial team for our key clients, brokers, their families and employees.
After that everyone is bused up to Croke park to experience the game which is followed by a post-game event in the Croke Park hotel and then on to the Gibson for the post-match dinner and hopefully celebration!
If I get a chance I will always try and find an hour to try and meet my Dad and some of the people and teammates from my own GAA club here in Dublin before or after the game to catch up as All Ireland final days are special occasions that you should never take for granted so you also want to see your family and friends.
SfB: Give us a prediction on how Sunday might work out?
A-MH: As a neutral I am really excited about both upcoming finals and will be on the edge of my seat. I think the men’s final is going to be every bit as close as last year and I would be nervous for Dublin!
JG: I have to say Dublin as they look so strong all year and no one has fazed them too much. With Mayo I am wary of their battle hardened path to the final, the teams they have beaten so far and the agony of losing so many finals will be sure to put an animal like instinct into their mentality. It will be a battle and tight but with Dublin’s strong bench I think they will get the 3 in a row over the line!
SfB: Which player do you think will make the biggest impact?
AM-H: It’s so hard to single out any one player and I hope they all get a chance to put in the performance they’ve trained so hard for. Lee Keegan was supposed to the player to watch in previous games and then Andy Moran was the standout player. I think David Clarke’s contribution will be key this Sunday.
JG: This question rules out Jim Gavin who I think is a massive factor behind the current Dublin team but to answer your question, I think this will be Con O’Callaghans day. With such talent and big names on this Dublin team and panel, he has shone this summer and I think he will play a big part in the game on Sunday.
Thanks to both for the insight into the challenges that face them in the role that for many sports fans would be the dream job. You are a pleasure to work with…
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Image Credit Inpho and Sportsfile