You will be familiar at this stage with the referee blowing the party whistle against a blue background. It’s the bumper sting for Avantcard that takes us in and out of ad breaks on RTÉ during live coverage of the World Cup it has been recognised as a huge success in raised awareness and business at the Carrick on Shannon firm.
The deal was not one that had been planned for in preparing for 2018 but when the opportunity arose, managing director Chris Paul was quick to see the benefits and act.
“We work with media agency Vizeum and they brought the opportunity to us in May, really only a month before the start of the tournament with a proviso that we needed to act quick to get it,” Paul told Sport for Business yesterday.
“We have been much more active in our own marketing this year and this is an opportunity to accelerate quickly being associated with one of the two greatest sporting events in the world.”
“We decided there and then and had our material produced and with RTÉ within only two weeks, it was some turnaround.”
Avantcard shares the sponsorship of RTÉ’s coverage with Hyundai and menswear brand Remus Uomo.
The opportunity for shared coverage arose when Hyundai expressed a desire to be associated again, as they were for Brazil 2014 but that more of their budget was going into advertising as opposed to the programme sponsorship.
They were happy to share the package with other brands and the RTÉ Media Sales team swung into action.
Avantcard provides credit cards and loans to the consumer market and is novel in that it sets different interest rates depending on an individuals credit rating.
It is a major employer in Leitrim where the main offices are based on the site of the former MBNA operation on the way into Carrick on Shannon.
“After buying the business we spent time to get to know it and last year we came out on the front foot to attract new customers,” continued Paul.
“The World Cup sponsorship has been a real winner in terms of the increase in awareness and the number of applications we receiving.”
“We look at a number of metrics in quite granular detail and it is clearly identifiable the impact that match days, and the bigger ones in particular, have had.”
Paul speaks in a soft Geordie accent and you can sense the smile in his voice when he highlights that the biggest matches have been those involving England.
“The reasons why so many Irish viewers want to watch England can be pretty varied but the reality is that they want to watch and tonight’s game against Croatia will be massive.”
From a personal perspective, the Newcastle United fan will want to see a positive result and England in a World cup Final against France would be a huge boost for the viewing figures and the return on the sponsorship investment.
Post World Cup
Having spent most of his career to date working with Barclaycard in England and around the world Paul knows the value of sport in a sponsorship context but has yet to plot out how that might look in an Irish context post World Cup.
“We are looking at a number of ideas both at national and local level but we won’t be rushing as quickly as we did for the World Cup deal.”
“I understand the value of sports sponsorship and it will certainly be a factor in how we promote the brand longer term.”
“Local investment is important to us and that will likely be one element.”
Having backed the World Cup coverage it is clear we have the capacity to do most things but we can’t do everything and there will be a balance across our overall marketing channels.
In whatever spare time he has between work and family, Paul like to take part in adventure obstacle racing like the events of Tough Mudder. That prepares you to take some hits along the way and maybe an England set back tonight will be one but you can be sure he will finish the course and emerge stronger at the end.
Now back to that whistle…