Looking Back on Partners ’17

Partners ’17 brought together 100 leaders from the worlds of sport and business at the Sport Ireland National Sports Campus yesterday for a morning of learning about what makes a great relationship between the two sides.

The day kicked off with Allianz ambassador Sinead Kane talking about her overcoming the challenges that she faced as a visually impaired person and how she faced up to them through work in terms of qualifying as Ireland’s first blind solicitor, and through sport via the incredible achievement of running seven marathons in seven days on seven continents.

She spoke of how she opened up the conversation with Allianz and Damien O’Neill admitted to the decision having gone from thanks but no thanks to a resounding yes in all of four minutes.


We were able to exclusively reveal the new television ad which will break in the coming weeks highlighting Sinead’s story and making it relevant to what Allianz can provide.

Every partnership is based on a relationship, and that shone through in the insights shared by our Partner for the Day Livewire.  Jill Downey, Noel Martyn and Sarah Lynch gave us the run down on how sponsorship works, busted a few myths about measurement and spoke of the importance of people.

The range of services that they can provide to sponsors and rights holders could only be touched upon but they will be making ‘The People Factor’ available next week to all those who were with us yesterday. If you are a Sport for Business member but could not join us yesterday, contact us and we will get a copy for you as well.

It’s not possible for everyone to deliver the kind of highly targeted pitch that Chelsea did when securing their sponsor…


… but the principle of creating something that is tailored specifically to a brand is one that shone through.

That was validated by Edel McCarthy of Electric Ireland and John Gillick of AIG who spoke of the importance of creating a mixed portfolio of large and smaller sponsorships to deliver specific aims.

“We have a scorecard across a number of key areas and we measure each sponsorship opportunity against that, said Gillick.”


“There are some which would look great but we might not be able to do for reasons of resource or time but no matter the size, the same level of scrutiny goes into each pitch that catches our eye.”

“As an energy supplier we are only really important to people when we are not there,” added McCarthy.

“We use partnerships like those with the GAA, the Irish Olympic team and Darkness into Light to build ourselves into peoples consciousness as a brand they can trust, that will do the right thing and will be there.”

There was a Pitch Showcase which highlighted opportunities ranging from international to hyper local and gave a platform for Paralympic Ireland, The Wild Air Run, Mondello Park, the irish Greyhound Board, Pentathlon Ireland, Cabinteely FC, Elite Events, IdMe, PSA Academies, Ladies Gaelic Football, Horse Sport Ireland, Dublin City Marathon and Cabinteely FC.

Each had real merit and all were generating conversations among the brands and agencies present in the room.

There was a very tight finish between four of the presentations for the inaugural Partners Pitch Award and a free consultation with the Livewire team.

Pentathlon Ireland have an exciting period to look forward to with a growing sport and a major opportunity to be launched in the coming weeks.  Wild Air Run will similarly be creating a real stir among brands with news of their two new installations in 2018.  Elite Events have real scope to engage at a different level with a committed audience as they develop.

The winner though was the presentation by Chairman  Larry Bass of the potential for growth in Ireland’s largest League of Ireland football Club Cabinteely FC.

From men to women, youth to special needs, they are building something special in their corner of Dun Laoghaire Rathdown and with ambitious plans to celebrate their 50th anniversary as a community club, they win through on this occasion.  Congratulations to them and to all who pitched.

We will be sharing individual feedback and comments over the course of the coming days.


The morning rounded out with great insight from Rugby legend Rob Kearney and Olympian Thomas Barr on the ways in which the commercial demands and opportunities that come with high achievement as athletes are managed by their guides David McHugh and Sinead Galvin and how that landscape has changed over recent years.

Barr spoke of how he wants to push the boundaries on creativity with the brands he works with and to be more ‘boisterous’.

Kearney spoke of the trust he has with McHugh and with that being built up over 12 years, they both knew what would work between him and brands.

McHugh himself spoke of the need to say no more often than yes for any one of a hundred reasons but that navigating the complexity of competing demands was always based first on what would be seen as authentic and genuine.

That was echoed by Galvin as we crossed over into social media, touched on Rob Kearney’s relationship with various twitter accounts and on how timing and scheduling was the critical element in managing the demands of training, playing and managing commercial appearances and content elements.

Thanks to all those who joined us on the day, from great speakers to a wonderfully engaged audience. The hum of conversation and exchange of details going on through the breaks would suggest that this was a day in which plenty of new partnerships were likely to be forged and that after all is what will building relationships is all about.

Image Credit: Elma Beirne and Caroline Ledwith via twitter

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