Rory Sheridan on a Decade of Sponsorship

On November 20th Sport for Business is partnering with Onside Sponsorship and the Marketing Institute of Ireland for the hosting of the ‘Who Won Sponsorship 2019’ event at the Aviva Stadium.

A key element of this year’s event will be a look back at the decade of sponsorship in Ireland.

As part of a partnership between Sport for Business and this event, we have interviewed a number of those who will be appearing at the event and asking them their views on the changing nature of the partnership landscape in Ireland.

Today we sat down with Rory Sheridan, Head of Partnerships for Diageo across Europe.

SfB: We are celebrating a decade in which sport and sponsorship have changed beyond recognition. What are the main changes that have impacted Sport and Sponsorship in Ireland in your view?

RS: A blend of changes have transformed sport and sponsorship, mainly for the better, in Ireland. Bigger picture, the population is much more socially aware now, which allows our sponsorships to lead with strong values that are central to our brands in areas such as diversity, inclusion and sustainability.

Instead of strictly focusing on the sport itself, we find Diageo actively engaged in new ways around how we intend to support such social issues and help people achieve their goals.

Technology is also an obvious catalyst to how sport and sponsorship have changed over the last decade, as it has allowed our sponsoring brands to reach a much larger audience in new and engaging ways.

Technology like OTT, AR, VR, and even AI have all contributed to allowing the sponsor and rights holders to provide amazing access to more fans/consumers, making future campaigns really exciting. 

And, of course, there’s social media. We are now able to reach current and prospective consumers in a more targeted manner with a more focused message. The growth in social media also forces sponsors and rights holders to stand out in a meaningful way.

SfB: Do you feel that sport is closer to the fans now than ever before or further away

RS: Sporting events have the potential to better serve both the travelling fan attending every game, as well as the die-hard fans catching the games remotely.

Fans can walk the sidelines, see what the refs are seeing, or join in the victory celebrations in the dressing room thanks to new advances in technology – all of which serves the purpose of bringing fans closer to the action at the venue from the comfort of their home.

These applications are providing a way to connect with friends watching the game in different physical locations, creating a “virtual bar” for the times you can’t be there in person.

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SfB: How have the channels of communication that you use to engage with your audience changed over the past ten years?

RS: Over the past ten years, the rise of social and digital media have become a huge way we are communicating with our audience. We are more targeted now, we don’t have one singular message, we want to reach people in ways that are personal to them.

The prevalence of these channels of communication have made it increasingly more important to consider our messaging – now more than ever, we know how important it is that people are enjoying our products and drinking responsibly. Not only is the safety of our consumers and our communities of the utmost importance to us, but with the ease of communication as it is now, the public expects a certain level of responsibility from us, as well.

While social and digital media have definitely come to the forefront, we do know that connecting with our consumers face to face at events is going to be the best way to get to know the people who are connected to and interested in our brands. We want everyone to feel a part of the brand.

SfB: What do you see as potentially the biggest opportunities for sponsorship professionals in the next decade?

RS: Technology is going to continue to be a huge opportunity for sponsorship professionals in the next decade. We will need to keep using technology in new and innovative ways as it continuously develops to further sponsors and rights holders’ objectives. Technology will become embedded in our campaigns and even within our stadia.

One of the most exciting aspects of how technology will advance and how we will use it to build connections is how accessible other markets will become due to these advancements. We will be able to discover new ways to reach emerging markets and territories outside of our usual footprint and help spread our brand, messaging, and community further into the world.

The ‘Who Won Sponsorship Series 2019’ event takes place on Wednesday, November 20th in the Aviva Stadium. Tickets are priced at €75 for individual and corporate members of the Marketing Institute of Ireland or €100 for non-members and can be purchased here


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