When Microsoft launched a €6 million training initiative this week they turned to a sporting personality in Bernard Dunne to be the initial ambassador.
His role is indicative of a wider reaching out to different groups through the medium of recognised and trusted sports stars.
The aim of the Youthspark initiative is to train as many as 10,000 young people currently out of employment in computer skills that will enhance their chances of employment in the short and medium term.
Dunne will himself complete one of the courses and update his progress through social media channels.
[ismember]”I’m someone who never had a need or a chance to learn about computers but I used one to write my speech for the launch of this scheme and am really looking forward to learning more.”
The scheme was actually launched by an Taoiseach Enda Kenny but it is through stars of sport that companies realise they can reach out to a wider young audience.
There is a greater sense of trust in sports stars than would be the case with many other possible champions of a brand or project. Elsewhere today we write about GAA Broadcast legend Micheál O’Muircheartaigh promoting a scheme for the elderly to go for free to Greyhound Racing nights, while on a global scale stars like Usain Bolt and David Beckham are seen as setting a gold standard for connections to audiences across fields as diverse as fashion and financial services.
There is of course a risk in using any celebrity and sport is no different as Lance Armstrong and Oscar Pistorious have recently shown in causing discomfort around board rooms but sport still has a greater hold over public consciousness than many of the traditional pillars like government, big business, religion or the mainstream media and this is an area increasingly being used.
There is a long tradition of bringing sporting stars into the political arena. Jimmy Deenihan, Sean Kelly and John O’Mahoney all prove the point among the present cohort. The carry over extends to business as well with Jim Glennon and Hugo MacNeill among those who have stepped from the field of play to high business office.
Sporting stars’ endorsement of charity initiatives also adds value and is as carefully managed as any commercial arrangement as Jonny O’Shea of Platinum One explained at our recent Round Table on Charity and Sport.
The ability of a character like Bernard Dunne, familiar through his boxing career and commentary but also through his association with Dublin GAA gives additional scope to what Microsoft are looking to achieve and his brand will do more to bring young people in from the margins that would otherwise resist any traditional corporate reaching into their lives.
The membership of Sport for Business includes a number of experts in the field of individual sports star management and representation. If you would like to explore the ways in which such a personality might help engage your target audience, contact us today and we will put you together.[/ismember]