Ahead of Sunday’s All Ireland Hurling Final Sport for Business has been out and about with some of the key people on the commercial side of the game and the Hurling Championship. This morning we look back on the season with Sorcha Fennell Sheehan of Bord Gáis Energy.
SfB: What have been the highlights of your Hurling sponsorship so far this year?
SFS: While the season has been shorter, the 2019 Championship has been one of the busiest and most exciting for Bord Gáis Energy as a sponsor. Our sponsorships enable us to offer our customers unmissable GAA experiences through the Bord Gáis Energy Rewards Club and that has been our focus all summer.
We’ve hosted hundreds of customers at our Cupán Tae events at matches across the country and given the younger generation of hurling fans the chance to wave teams onto the pitch as official Bord Gáis Energy flag bearers.
As well as that, we’ve also hosted three #HurlingToTheCore training camps with our Bord Gáis Energy ambassadors including Joe Canning, Kyle Hayes and Brendan Maher, among others, with one final training camp taking place in Croke Park in the coming weeks.
It’s been a busy season but our GAA Rewards offers have been extremely well received among customers – ultimately creating special memories for fans and growing our relationships with our customers.
How important is the sponsorship in terms of that rewards and loyalty focus of Bord Gais Energy?
It is a key part of our rewards programme for customers.
Over the course of the summer, we’ve hosted 9 Cupán Tae events, where our customers are offered match tickets and exclusive access to a special pre-match hospitality event where they can relax and enjoy the match build-up before throw-in.
But our Rewards Club offers extend beyond the Senior Championship sponsorship – this weekend, for example, we will also host customers at an exclusive tour of Croke Park with Kilkenny Legend Eddie Brennan, as part of our sponsorship of the GAA Legends Tour series at the Croke Park museum.
Our customers are at the heart of everything we do and these special experiences help us reward them for choosing to be with Bord Gáis Energy.
What was your personal favourite content from this year’s campaign?
We know Hurling has a very engaged audience, so we created a suite of GIFs and stickers to encourage social media interaction around big games. The reaction from fans and players has been fantastic, so we’re expecting plenty of engagement from Kilkenny and Tipp fans over the weekend.
Our reactive social media content has also been very popular.
We shot a series of videos with some stars of the game – Brendan Maher from Tipp, Adrian Mullen from Kilkenny, Aaron Gillane from Limerick and Cork’s Patrick Horgan and this video series has featured across our social media channels throughout the summer before and after big games.
It will be interesting to see if this Sunday’s post-match video is Kilkenny or Tipperary themed!
How much of a focus do you place on customer engagement with your ambassadors?
We’ve had the pleasure of working with some of the game’s biggest names over the course of the summer, and the past number of years.
Having been a sponsor of the U20 and previously U21 Hurling Championship for over a decade, we’ve been on a journey with a lot of players who have represented the brand as ambassadors at different levels.
This year, our focus with ambassadors has been the #HurlingToTheCore training camps which have been a huge success for us.
The camps are hosted by our ambassadors for children of Bord Gáis Energy Rewards Club customers, and they offer the next generation of hurlers the chance to learn from the current generation of Hurling stars.
We have one final camp planned for Croke Park after the conclusion of the season, which will give customers the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of some of our ambassadors by stepping out onto the pitch in Croke Park.
How important are the different relative elements of your activation?
Our approach to activation is well rounded – we have a social media campaign around GAA, an extensive programme of customer events through the Bord Gáis Energy Rewards Club, a series of media partnerships and a number of PR initiatives, all focused on building brand association and generating awareness of the experiences we create and offer around GAA.
How big of a challenge is it working within the tighter timetables of the Munster and Leinster Championships and then the knock out stages?
There is no doubt the condensed schedule makes it trickier to plan proactively, particularly from a logistics point of view when it comes to customer events – however, we wouldn’t be doing ourselves any justice by not allowing for some element of flexibility in our programme of activity.
We have a very strong relationship with the GAA, which has enabled us to deliver a consistently high quality of customer events and experiences, despite tight timelines.
We also have a very dynamic social media and content team who keep our channels alive with high-quality tactical content, ensuring the conversation with fans is always on and always interesting.
Is the Final ‘just another game’ or is there a much greater sense of excitement at this time of year?
There’s always something special about a final. The fact that we have what looked like an unlikely pairing at the start of the season in this year’s Final, even though they have met in many All-Ireland Finals over the years, just lends to the excitement around the game.
Do you have anything special lined up for the weekend?
This weekend, we’ll be inviting fans to check out the Bord Gáis Energy 360 Photobooth where they can get their pre-match pose captured in 360.
We rolled this activation out on semi-final weekend and fans loved it! It’s a really fun way to wrap up the season, giving match-goers the chance to emulate the players and some of the content we’ve captured during the summer.
We’ll also welcome 150 customers to a special Cupán Tae event in Croke Park before the game where they can hear the views of an experienced panel of Hurling Legends which includes Ger Cunningham, Richie Power and Paddy Stapleton, hosted by Marty Morrissey.
As well as that, we will be handing out flags for those who leave the house empty-handed.
How do you think the game will go on Sunday?
What are the chances of a draw?!
Read More: Three More Years for Bord Gáis Energy
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