Aviva is one of the biggest sponsors of sport in Ireland with the renewal of their naming rights on the Aviva Stadium a key element for both the FAI and the IRFU.
It’s not just about bricks and mortar though and this week they launched a new twist on their Aviva Soccer Sisters programme with the FAI, one that has the potential to transform the access that young girls have to organised sport.
We caught up with Aviva Sponsorship Manager Lisa Bergin to get the low down on this important new initiative.
Sport for Business: First off can you give us a little background to the Soccer Sisters programme?
Lisa Bergin: Aviva have been sponsors of Soccer Sisters since the inception of our stadium sponsorship in 2010. Since then, we have worked with the FAI to help to promote the game at grassroots level.
The programme has grown steadily since 2010 but plateaued in recent years. We realized it was time to make a change and worked with the FAI to take away the cost barrier to the camps.
We announced today that the camps would now be free to attend, but still with the same level of engagement and gear.
We wanted to open soccer to a whole new demographic of Mums in particular, who maybe wouldn’t have thought of sending their daughter to a camp, or even get involved themselves before.
We enlisted TV Personality Yvonne Connolly to take part in this year’s campaign. Yvonne is a busy Mum who features regularly on TV and radio, so we wanted to work with her to create awareness of the opportunities the camps present for both girls and parents who want to get involved.
Yvonne will be completing a coaching course during the Easter festival, while her 13-year-old daughter Ali will also attend a camp in Malahide. The campaign will culminate on May 29 in Aviva Stadium when we get Yvonne back to coach a team during our Aviva Soccer Sisters Dream Camp on May 29. We will document both of their journeys throughout.
We wanted to create awareness outside of the sports pages, so as Yvonne and her daughter Ali attended today’s launch, we had massive interest from lifestyle and consumer media.
This campaign complements our new #SafeToDream sponsorship platform nicely. Sport presents safe space moments where parents and kids are free from worry, and Aviva partner with the IRFU, FAI and Aviva Stadium to celebrates these moments, from grassroots all the way to international level.
Women’s Sport has been the hottest of areas over the past 12 months in particular. How deep would you say does Aviva’s commitment to the Women’s game go at grassroots and senior level?
Participation numbers and engagement are key, and we want to encourage as many young girls to learn and play in a safe and fun environment as possible.
This year we hope that over 6,000 girls will take part in the camps. As these numbers rise, so to will the need to recruit parents and adults to get involved in the game at all levels, so coaching and volunteer workshops will also be free during our Easter festival.
Last year, we were delighted to come on board as sponsors of the Women’s National team. This was a natural progression for us as we have always been passionate about promoting the participation of girls and women in sport.
We were really proud to encourage fans to get behind the Women’s National Team by shining a spotlight on the unwavering commitment shown by players who represent their country during the team’s France 2019 qualifying campaign. We will continue to celebrate the team as they embark upon their new UEFA EURO 2021 qualifying campaign later this year.
These players have managed to juggle school, college, careers and family while progressing through the ranks and representing their country on the international stage, so we believe there are no better role models to inspire our Soccer Sisters. Both partnerships are a great fit for us and we believe we can make a meaningful contribution to the game, from grassroots to green.
What are the insights that have guided you towards the sponsorship assets that you have?
Two of our key customer segments consist of those who are young and mortgaged and also people with careers and children.
Both tally nicely with our sponsorship assets, particularly as our grassroots programmes in both soccer and rugby are aimed at families who sit within these segments. We love to communicate with our customers during important moments in their lives, and sport is always a passion point for people.
If you also take a step back and look at the age group of both the Women’s National Team and their peers. This group are entering, or are progressing through times in their lives that align with our product offering, between car insurance, driving lessons and home insurance for first-time buyers.
This is a fantastic vehicle for storytelling for us but also links back to what we do as a brand.
How will Easter Camps be promoted to customer base?
As noted, our key customer segments have a vested interest in Aviva Soccer Sisters as the age group spans between 6-14.
This was particularly evident today as we had a number of customer’s children take part in our launch photocall, and they will also get the unique opportunity to play at half-time in Aviva Stadium during the Republic of Ireland v Georgia game next week to showcase the upcoming camps.
We will use both our direct to customer and broker marketing channels to promote the camps to our customer base. A targeted eZine will be issued directly to customers, while similar communications will go to our network of brokers to distribute to their clients also.
Uptake has always been strong, so as the camps being free this year for both parents and kids to get involved, we are expecting an extra burst of interest.
Finally, it’s a big 15 months ahead for football with Dublin hosting the Euro 2020 Championships. It will be at the Dublin Stadium rather than the Aviva Stadium though. What plans have you for making the connection to your partnership in less obvious ways?
We are reviewing our strategy for Uefa EURO 2020 at present, but it is sure to be an amazing opportunity for Dublin with the Stadium hosting four games during the tournament.
I was lucky enough to attend both EURO 2012 in Poland and EURO 2016 in France and witnessed first-hand the fantastic platform it presents for both brands and hosting nations throughout.