John Gillick on the rationale behind the insurer’s sports sponsorships and explains how they have impacted from both a branding and social perspective
Just recently I watched Dublin captain Stephen Cluxton lift the Allianz National League trophy for the fifth time in the last six years. In other codes, the Dublin ladies’ footballers were sitting joint top of the Lidl National League and on the brink of getting to the semi-finals. It is safe to say GAA success in the capital has been on a high in recent seasons.
Thankfully, AIG has been front and centre throughout the period of dominance. We are fortunate in having a wide-ranging sponsorship portfolio which includes men’s GAA football and hurling, ladies football, camogie, golf and tennis. It is supplemented by a worldwide rugby partnership with New Zealand Rugby, which is also activated in Ireland.
We are proud to see AIG on the Dublin jersey but the sponsorship has to make business sense. It has been beneficial in terms of increasing brand awareness, trust and credibility as well as helping us achieve our business objectives through use of a strategic sponsorship activation plan. Success on the pitch helps, but clever activation tactics can help drive customer leads, acquisition, retention, brand sentiment, key relationships and loyalty.
Initiatives included the ‘AIG Heroes’ community programme, the AIG Game Changer Network, strong support for amateur men and ladies Irish golf through the GUI and ILGU sponsorships, the introduction of the ‘Dub Club Chronicle’ video series and the continued support to the local clubs through the AIG/Herald Dublin GAA Club Star Awards.
In 2017, AIG again sponsored the Fenway Hurling Classic, showcasing Ireland’s sporting culture abroad in front of 30,000 people in Boston’s Fenway Park. Members of the All-Ireland winning teams travelled and took part in a pitch presentation. We ramped our key B2B marketing to leverage and maximise sponsorship assets to keep growing the business.
Our ‘Heroes’ programme offered over 500 children, for the most part from disadvantage areas, the opportunity to meet, be coached and listen to inspiring talks from some of the biggest names in GAA and global rugby. One standout event saw All-Blacks team members visit the Sheriff Street Youth Centre where local kids took part in a coaching session.
The activity helped us engage with our local community and use our sponsorship assets to show AIG is an organisation that cares. The Game Changer Network initiative was introduced by a member of our senior team, a former Dublin ladies’ footballer and All-Ireland winner, Louise Kidd. It was supported by Rob Hartnett from Sport for Business.
It involved pairing 10 of Ireland’s most successful women in business with 10 of Ireland’s strongest women in sport. The sport stars were given the chance to lean on their mentors for career advice, ensuring a strong female presence in business in the future. The Dub Club Chronicles video series shines a light on the heart of Dublin communities, the GAA club.
To date, 12 clubs have featured, each varying in size and location with 12 more in line for 2018. We help tell club stories, the history of real people past and present, the challenges and successes. We looked at St. Joesph’s O’Connell Boys, an inner city GAA club faced with struggles such as drugs and crime to more rural clubs, such as Stars of Erin in Glencullen.
Making a fist of it: Ali Twomey, James McCarthy, Sinéad Aherne and Eoghan O’Donnell have shown their steel when lining out for winning Dublin GAA teams in recent seasons.
In 2017, AIG became title sponsor of the Irish Open Tennis Championships and helped negotiate live TV coverage of the finals in both the men’s and women’s competitions. It has been a busy year for our team of just four people. The results for us have been excellent since we signed up to Dublin GAA in 2014, with an uptake in customer enquiries, quotes, business traffic and sales. Both consumer and commercial business has seen strong growth.
Sponsorship takes up a large chunk of our marketing spend. Our prompted brand awareness as a motor and general insurer along with trust/credibility scores increased considerably. The numbers we set for key business performance metrics such as web traffic, calls, quotes, sales, customer renewal and retention numbers were reached and our social media footprint grew.
Aside from business gains, AIG sponsorship activation programmes made a positive social impact in promoting women’s sport in Ireland, as well as making a difference to so many people at grassroots and community levels. The social impact is just as satisfying as the business impact and has every chance of fostering an enduring impact for AIG in Ireland.
John Gillick is head of direct marketing and sponsorship at AIG