Looking Forward to Year Five with Sian Gray of Lidl

This week saw Lidl launch the fifth year of its partnership with Ladies Football.  It has been one of the most powerful combinations of sport and business in the last decade and has played a major role in the strength of the sport in the vanguard of what has been happening in Women’s sport.

We took time out with Lidl Head of Marketing, Sian Gray to talk through what we can expect this year and the importance of the partnership to the brand.

SfB: It has been a partnership that has hit the mark at pretty much every turn.  How difficult is it to keep hitting refresh?

SG: We are very proud of what we have been able to do in terms of adding value for the sport and for the wider sense of Women’s sport.

Internationally it is held up as being best in class and again that is very gratifying, feeling that what we have done has not only benefitted the business but also made a difference.

The One Good Club initiative we launched this week after a successful pilot is another example of how we have been able to enable programmes that are clearly thought through.  We are willing to invest for the right projects and this is one of them.

At the same time, I am hard on myself and the team to keep on doing stuff that is fresh and relevant.  It’s not easy, kind of like a band trying to recapture the magic for a second album.  We are now on our fifth but I think there will be a lot to like about this years campaign.

SfB: Does that societal impact matter?

A lot.  We have undertaken research and are thoughtful about how we have promoted the sport at every level.

Putting school teams on posters is not something that would have come to mind in the first wave but it has been incredibly popular in communities all around the country.

We are going back out with more research this year and are happy to share that with the wider sport and business community so that we can all do better.

SfB: You’ve been part of the 20×20 campaign as well.  How has that been?

SG: It has been really good to both support and lean on other brands in a shared approach like this.

The pressure is on now as it is our chapter, our turn to lead, coming up in March and again we have put a lot of thought into how we can do that most effectively.

Part of the campaign this year is a new TV ad which will begin to air during March.

The ad we have used from the outset has been one of the best performing across all sectors.  To effectively use the same treatment for four years is testament to how much it resonated again and again with our key audience but I think the new one will be right up there for us and for Women’s sport.

It should be a real motivational piece of work and should really get people’s attention.

SfB: The impact for the sport is obvious but does it work as well in terms of the bottom line for Lidl?

Oh, there is no question but it has to.  The support for the partnership runs right through the organisation but we are a business and it has to be attributable for persuading more people to use Lidl for their shopping.

SfB: What new might be happening in store this year?

It is what we do every day.  The last wave of Kantar data was positive and we need to keep building on that.

Two years ago we sold branded water with a contribution going to the sport.  This year we won’t be doing water as it’s not great to be promoting plastic but we are looking at a number of products in our healthy eating range and we’ll be contributing from the sale of those.

I have to calculate a best case and worst case in terms of sales, benefit for the business and for sport, always making sure that it is something that works for customers as well.

SfB: You always seem to get along very well with fellow sponsor TG4.  Is that something you’ve had to work on?

The whole team at TG4 is great to work with.  At the start it must have been strange for us to come into a space they had previously had to themselves but we communicate well and we like each other.

SfB: How do you activate across your different media, outside of the big set-piece ads?

We produce a weekly 40-page leaflet so we are one of the biggest publishers in the country.  That’s offers in the main but we have started to carry content from our ambassadors, recipes and stories about them and that’s going really well.

Digital content is also very important and we are finalising a number of partnerships that will be a channel for the content that we will create with our ambassadors.

SfB: There will be one game streamed live from each round of the League.  Is that something you support?

SG: We have invested in order to make that happen.  It’s one of the ways in which we can apply our spend but there are lots of other things as well and we are constantly keeping in touch and helping bring the best things to life.

SfB: How important is sport as part of your overall marketing?

SG: Sport suits our brand.  We are young, ambitious and often seen as an underdog.  That maps really well onto Ladies Football and all of the Women’s sport.

It’s something we enjoy being involved in.  It works for us as a business and this is year two of a three-year extension so we will be around and active for a while yet.


Lidl are one of our main Partners at Sport for Business and we will be working closely with the team highlighting the best of what is to come over the next twelve months.

Read More: Lidl Backing Schools Initiative
Read More: One Good Club Initiative
Read More: 3 Year €3 Million Extension for Lidl and Ladies Football


Image Credit: James Crombie

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