FBD on Olympics, Sponsorship and Making a Big play

FBD Insurance were unveiled recently as the first commercial partner for the Tokyo 2020 cycle of the Olympic Federation of Ireland.

We had the opportunity to sit with FBD CEO Fiona Muldoon to dive a little deeper on the motivation behind the deal.

This is a big step up in terms of sponsorship for FBD, was it an easy decision?

Yes, we sponsor Connacht GAA and we have been involved in sponsoring the Rás but this is certainly on a bigger scale than we have done before.

Supporting Ireland and Irish athletes competing on a world stage is something to be proud of and as we celebrate our 50th year this year, of providing support to communities all over Ireland we felt that it was the right thing for us at the right time.

The very clear idea that the Olympic Federation of Ireland has expressed about putting the athlete first spoke to me as a business person and as a mother, and as an Irish person.

We count ourselves lucky to be involved.

Michael Carruth is our only Olympian star to have been born in Dublin City. That indicates the countrywide nature of Olympic sport, is that important given your rural roots?

We have 34 offices nationwide and this is very much a partnership for all of them and all of our staff.

The insurance sector has become perhaps the most important in terms of sports sponsorship with Allianz, AIG, Liberty, Aviva, Laya, VHI, Chill and many more all heavily involved. Is it good to be in such a competitive space?

Well, we looked at what all of our rivals were doing and yes sport is an important part of how we speak as a nation and how we can connect with our customers.

Expanding our position in GAA would have been an obvious move but we thought there was something different, something more national in terms of a team around the Olympic opportunity and that’s what we have gone for.

We are very proud of our rural heritage and we sponsor the Ploughing Championship where this year’s Ladies Champion works in our Bandon Office.

We are looking though to permeate the consciousness of urban communities as well and expanding the brand is something that Tokyo 2020 and the road we will travel with the Olympic Federation will do that for us.

Will you be involved in storytelling around the Olympics

We will be doing a lot in national and local media as well as on social, creating content that will make people proud.

I love what Electric Ireland did with the partnership for London and Rio but we will be putting our own twist on and will be signing up to deals with individual athletes as well.

It was some summer for the ‘Olympic’ sports.  Was that an important nudge factor in getting you involved?

It has been great with all the performances from hockey, from gymnastics from rowing, athletics and eventing but we had begun the conversation before all this success started to come on stream.

When you are making a big play, and this is one for us, where to place your chips is a big decision.  What the success did at different points through the discussions with Peter Sherrard, was to reinforce that this was the right thing for us.  It was a validation of what we were thinking.

How important will this be in terms of your overall marketing?

It will obviously ramp up as we get closer to the Games but we have started already by changing over email signatures.  It wil be central to all of our general marketing for new customers and to those who hold the 500,000 policies that we have in the market at the moment.

On a personal level what are some of your Olympic memories?

Thomas Barr in Rio was memorable. Fourth is such a great achievement but also such a hard place to be.

As a child I was mesmerised by the Gymnasts through the 1970’s.  There are so many memories, good and bad, from Sonia to ben Johnson and moments that really stick in the mind.

What I love is that we all become experts in so many new sports over the days and weeks of competition.  It’s wonderful.

Was the recent hard history of the Olympic movement a concern in an industry based on reputation?

Yes of course you have to take that into account but what the new approach does in terms of putting the athlete first is very important.

FBD has been through tough times in recent years as well but like the Olympic federation we have come though and there is something of a shared sense of bouncing back between us.

We are happy to have taken a leap of faith together.

Finally, are you involved in sport yourself?

I do a bit of running but I am of a generation where the nuns didn’t really think much in terms of sport and we nver really had the opportunities that there are today.

My son captained Belevedere to win the Senior Cup in Rugby in 2016 and my daughter plays a lot of sport so I’m very proud of them.

My husband is an Ironman and ran eleven marathons in 2017 so we are a sporting house alright.


Image Credit: Morgan Treacy, Inpho.ie

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