Throwback Thursday – Brand Ambassador Spotlight

Sport for Business has built up an archive of over seven years worth of news, analysis and insight on the commercial world of Irish Sport.

At risk of being made look foolish by the passage of time, we have decided to dive back into that archive on a weekly basis and bring you a little flavour of what was happening on one of the years that we have been around.

As a starter here is a report of an event we were involved with alongside Ger Gilroy, Kevin Moore and Niall Woods, all of whom we are delighted to say still feature regularly in the world of Sport for Business…


The National Concert Hall’s Carolan Room was packed to its splendid rafters yesterday  (February 2014) with over 100 public relations professionals eager to learn some advice and insight on the use of brand ambassadors to support their brand.

Ger Gilroy of Newstalk chaired a Public Relations Institute of Ireland panel consisting of Rob Hartnett from Sport for Business, Kevin Moore from Fleishman Hilliard (now moved on to head up Legacy Communications) and Niall Woods of Navy Blue.

The conversation ranged across money, gender, rules, personal branding and much more and here are six of the points to emerge:

1. In order to properly align with a good brand ambassador, the brand has to be confident about what it’s personality is and who it wants to address.  Drafting in the right voice to bring that personality to life will be determined less by popularity surveys than by finding the right fit to what may be quite a niche but influential or key audience.

2. All of us are ambassadors for our own personal brands.  What we do and say in public or on social media needs to be filtered to effectively tell the world what we are about.  That is the kind of broad public persona that is most effective for brands using a sporting or other personality to promote awareness or sales.  An obvious plug may well damage brand and ambassador in terms of credibility.  Consumers are smart and don’t want to be treated like fools.

3. Even the biggest names need to work on their own image and will take time to grow into a mature and rounded individual that will understand what is needed and deliver effectively.  Brian O’Driscoll’s transformation from wonder kid to everybody’s favourite did not happen overnight.  Getting the timing right on each step of that journey is important.

4. It is less important whether a brand ambassador is male or female than that they fit the personality of the brand.  Women’s sport is on an overdue roll at present and while Fiona Coghlan may not be as recognised as Brian O’Driscoll she may well offer more for less as a Grand Slam winning captain who is also a teacher.

5. Having a personality that enjoys and is willing to commit to rolling their sleeves up is important in terms of creating something more than a single photo opportunity.  Getting involved in visits to workplaces can have a transforming impact on staff motivation, even if it does not reach a massive mass market audience.  Imagination can be a better weapon than a press release.

6. Tread carefully around a partnership and what it might be able or unable to deliver.  Different tournament rules can be restrictive and prevent some of the most high profile opportunities that you might be considering.  It is better to build consistently than hope for a one off splash.

How have things changed since then?  Well, let’s get together and see if we can find out…

Sport for Business will host a Members’ Round Table on the subject of Brand Ambassadors and what they can do for brands in April.

Among the subjects we will cover will be:

  • Value of social vs mainstream endorsement
  • Potential for fans as brand ambassadors
  • Getting it right in advance
  • Being prepared for exit when the time is right

If you are a Sport for Business member and would like to take part, or if you would like to sponsor and host the event, get in touch with us today.


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