Pinergy Proving to be the #16thMan for Munster

Pinergy came on board as a member of Sport for Business earlier this year.  From imaginative support of Munster Rugby through to more targetted backing for individual athletes they think a lot about sponsorship and it shows.

We sat down this week with David Slattery, Head of Marketing, in between Heineken Champions Cup matches against Saracens and found out a little more about what they have in mind when planning activations.

SfB: You’ve recently renewed your partnership with Munster so it’s clearly been working for you.  What was it that made you want to get involved in the first place?

DS: We’re a young company and we want to get across our message of smart and green energy.  Paul O’Connell was our first brand ambassador and it was a natural shift to move that to Munster over time.

You seem to work hard on linking your activation to the theme of energy.

We recognise the energy of the fans to create a nice link between the organisations.

We had great success with fan promotions over the last couple of years and this year we have created the ‘Family of Fans’. It’s a big ask to bring along a whole family with the cost of tickets, transport food and more so we run a competition for all of the big games where we get to give one family a really special day out.  They come on to the pitch, we present them with their own number 16 jersey and they win a year’s supply of electricity as well.

We also recognise the energy of the players so after each game we present the ‘Power Player’ of the match.  That’s working with George Murray and his team of analysts to use data across a number of different criteria to highlight the work that goes in that may not be obvious.

We try to turn that around within an hour, a little quicker for the big games.  It often puts up a player that has not won the Man of the Match.

There’s a nice link to our own use of data in terms of energy.  We show customers on a daily basis how much they have used on any given day and what elements have used the most.

Knowledge is power in that enables you to make decisions.  It’s very similar to what sport is all about.

You also have the coaches computers branded, which is an important piece of real estate in rugby broadcasting.

It is and maybe especially this year with the new coaching team and very strong interest from media in what the guys might be up to while they are watching the match.

We’ve done a major LED retrofit around the ground and we’ve also introduced some heated areas around Thomond which are going down especially well at this time of year and again ties neatly back into what we do that can be a real touchpoint for fans in their daily lives.

You are very strong on storytelling.  is that the start point for activating the sponsorship?

It’s important to build a link to our purpose that everyone has a part to play in creating a sustainable energy future.

The #16th man heated zones came out of a conversation I had with Doug Howlett maybe a year ago.  We provide Munster rugby, and Basketball Ireland with 100% green energy and these zones are a way in which we can demonstrate that using energy to create comfort does not have to be throw-away.

How big a part does the Sporting Sponsorship portfolio play in your overall marketing?

It is a big part of how we get our brand out to new audiences.  We are official energy partners to Munster Rugby and Basketball Ireland and we also have a programme called Pinergy Passions where we support young people in following their dreams.

In this, we support a young triathlete called Ailbhe Carroll who works within our Marketing department.

We support a cyclist called James Davenport who is studying in UCD, and we also back the Blackrock College Women’s Rugby team.  They are in Division One of the Women’s AIL and have a number of players on the Leinster and Irish teams.  This year they are fielding a second team and we have been on this journey with them.

Michelle Claffey is on board as a brand ambassador and there are lots of interesting things we can do with the individuals that make a real difference to them and which reflects well on us as a brand.

We do a lot around sporting clubs and we have a particular liaison person, Esme Murphy who is a good golfer that reaches out to provide advice and hopefully solutions across the sporting sector.

Is the Pinergy Passions open to others as well?

We have had approaches and we support a scholarship in Limerick Institute of Technology as well.  It’s not just for sport and it is something that we are very keen to keep going and keep growing.

Do you produce content in support of the sponsorship elements?

Content is a huge part of how you get your story out there.  Sport is a great way to build an emotional connection.

We have created a number of videos around each of our sporting supports.  With Basketball, we use the hashtag #SlamSmarter and we do a performance of the month piece of content which always works very well.

We sponsor the data on TG4 when they cover Basketball as well so we try to make sure that what we do is linked together with a consistent theme.

From a personal point of view what would be your sporting passion?

Rugby is my main sporting passion.  I’m a Leinster Rugby season ticket holder, but that’s OK.  Munster know all about that.

It’s a very young company as well in terms of our workforce and we do a lot in terms of challenges and encouraging our people to put their own physical and mental wellbeing to the fore.

We’ve done an annual charity cycle for the past three years as well and did a marathon row recently.  Ailbhe was carrying a niggle at the time so was helping out on coaching and watching our splits.  We went from ninth the previous year to fourth this year so the right people and the right data clearly make a difference.

Who do you work with on the agency side?

We work with WH and they are great.  There’s a lot of planning goes into the season and we are good together on looking back to determine what has worked and what we could do better.

How do you manage the relationship with the group of sponsors at Munster rugby?

I’m former Bank of Ireland so I know a few of those on that side.  We don’t have a direct relationship with the other sponsors, that goes through the Munster team.  It works well though.  We are competing for space in people’s minds but we don’t compete for the services we offer so there is room for everyone.

We like to think that we work well with the rights holders and the other sponsors.  

Give us one recent highlight that stands out in terms of the relationship.

The Heineken Cup Quarterfinal when we were playing Toulouse was one.  We had been talking with Munster about a number of activations.

The stadium bowl has to be clean of ‘club’ sponsors that day so we were able to solve two problems with dressing the stadium not with Pinergy but with the #16thMan hashtag. It was a great game with Andrew Conway’s special try and we were trending internationally that day so it worked well.

And finally, give us one event outside of rugby that you would like to be at.

I think the Olympics to see the 100 metres final would be very special.  As a pure sporting spectacle, it is very simple and is a moment that really does stop the world.

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