The role of Brand Ambassadors can be dated back to as early as the 1800’s, and with the changing landscape of traditional and new media in recent years, comes a paradigm shift in the role that Brand Ambassadors are playing in Ireland today.

The newly completed Talent Reframed 2023 report, from Sponsorship Consultancy agency ONSIDE and leading Sport Marketing agency Line Up Sports, uncovers a fresh read on the changing landscape for those engaging in the area of Brand Ambassadorships in Ireland.

Findings from the report shows that sport ambassadors continue to be a source of trust in influencing consumer purchasing decisions, with the equivalent of almost one million Irish consumers found to trust a product / service more if a sports personality they admire endorses it. With the increase of phishing and online scams, sports ambassadors can offer brands a safe haven with their social authentication tick, where they can control the brand message through a trusted source.

Bringing ambassador campaigns to life needs to be done so in an authentic way, with more and more ambassadors choosing the content they will / not post on their channels. They know the content they publish can mean the difference between growing or decreasing their followers. The new Talent Reframed study shows that a quarter of consumers will follow sports personalities if they look to have genuine connections with the brand and values they represent. 

John Trainor, CEO of ONSIDE, commented: “While we are seeing positive insights in many areas of the study, one space that brands and agencies need to make sure they get right is using their ambassadors in an authentic way to ensure brands connect properly with their target audience, to more effectively increase brand loyalty and ultimately drive commercial success in an increasingly competitive marketplace.” 

The new research by ONSIDE also shows that consumers continue to value Sports Personality endorsements, with 4 out of 10 of respondents agreeing that using a sports personality as a brand ambassador is a better way for companies to promote themselves than straight advertising. The study also uncovered 543,000 Irish adults that felt more positive about the recent National Dairy Council ad because Paul O’Donovan featured in it, with a significant volume of respondents also found to be more likely to consider using products promoted by the National Dairy Council as a result of the Olympic rower’s involvement in the activation. 

Social media platforms and digital channels have become vital in amplifying the impact of Brand Ambassadors, providing brands with unprecedented opportunities for visibility and consumer interaction. Sports Personalities have the potential to significantly expand brand reach and enhance engagement with target audiences. Conor Murray, as an example has a following of 248,000 Instagram followers.  The study also shows a growing trend in nearly 1 in 4 Irish Adults now following behind the scenes online content on their favourite sports and sports stars on social media.

Speaking on the insights generated by ONSIDE, Line Up Sports Commercial Director, Elma Beirne comments: “Today, authenticity is an important factor for brands when partnering with an Ambassador, ensuring the Ambassador is the right fit for the business and brand. And that also goes equally for the ambassador. This study shows that the sports industry provides credible and engaging brand ambassadors for brands to help communicate their messages to and in turn builds trust.”

Trainor concludes: “As brands navigate this next generation of brand ambassadorships, ensuring that they find ways to align with the right brand ambassadors will be instrumental in developing effective marketing strategies. The latest wave of the Talent Reframed series of studies sees fans and consumers that identify strongly with Irish Sports personalities they admire, resulting in increased trust and emotional connections with endorsed brands. The findings underline the need for brands to invest in authentic, data-led partnerships with Sports personalities and with a bumper few years ahead of us for Irish Sport, including FIFA Women’s World Cup, the Rugby World Cup and the Olympics in Paris in 2024, there’s plenty of stars to choose from.”