The All Ireland Hurling Championships exploded into life at the weekend with Dublin almost causing a major shock only conceding defeat to Kilkenny in injury time at Parnell Park.
With the Munster Championship springing into action this weekend as well there will be more attention and that’s always good news for sponsors.
Last week we reported on the second year of Bord Gais Energy being involved as one of the three main sponsors of the Championship and today we catch up with Sponsorship Manager Sorcha Fennell Sheehan to dig a little deeper on how and why it worked last year and what to expect in 2018.
Year two moves from finding your feet to making your involvement as a sponsor deeper, is that a fair way to look at your involvement?
We were very happy with how year one went. We had a lot of learnings from our ten-year involvement with the U21 Championship but it was still very different and we will be applying a number of the lessons we learned as we head into year two.
Retention is very important for us and any business in the energy sector. We want to make customers feel special through offering them memorable experiences that they can only get through being part of the Bord Gais Energy rewards scheme.
This year we have more than doubled the number of customers that we can reach out to with tickets, upgrades and experience.
Is the shortened season making you look differently at the timing of your activations?
Last year we held back a little until the Provincial Championships and this year we are starting earlier with offers from the start of the Championship and running all the way through to the final in August.
We also have the U21 Championship running in parallel but extending the season for us first by a couple of weeks to the Final and then again with the naming of the Bord Gais Energy U21 Team of the Year.
We will have hundreds of customers attending matches each weekend having bought their tickets through us. That will move up and down a little as the new format of the Championship develops.
Fans might not be able to make it to all the games with them coming on a weekly basis over the next month but the demand from week one, and particularly the near surprise between Dublin and Kilkenny suggests that the hunger for this year’s Championship will be intense all the way through, which is great.
Is there anything new this season?
We had a season preview in the Cupán Tae café in Dublin last week and we are sponsoring the Marty Squad on RTÉ radio this season for the first time.
The café concept will be rolled out at matches again this year and the sixth lock launch in Dublin gave us a real talking point as well.
Did last year’s partnership produce a measurable impact for the brand?
We measure what we do closely in terms of the impact that each of our partnerships and activations and looking at the numbers from last year, those who engaged with us through our GAA sponsorship showed a 50 percent reduction in propensity to churn. That’s a number that makes it a very worthwhile partnership on our part.
Is there a particular geographic focus this year?
A number of years ago we were much less well known in Munster and a lot of our focus will be on the Munster Championship this year. It has an intensity that is wonderful to be associated with and there are some great games running all the way through the Championship
Our second biggest customer base is in Cork and we are looking at a big focus on all the counties of Munster this year.
Image Credit: Brendan Moran, Sportsfile