Vodafone and Allianz Ireland’s top sponsors

Mobile brand Vodafone and the German insurer Allianz have been named as the country’s most effective sponsorships for their Ireland rugby and Women’s Aid campaigns respectively, the Onside agency and the Marketing Institute reports. Voted upon by Ireland’s marketing professionals, the two brands were recognised as this year’s ‘industry trailblazers’ at a breakfast sponsorship conference in the Aviva Stadium.

Sponsorship spend increased to €212 million in 2023, up eight per cent on last year. Ireland’s women’s team qualifying for their first ever Fifa Women’s World Cup and the summer’s Rugby World Cup in France contributed to the growth. Almost 60 per cent of marketers surveyed cited campaigns by Vodafone, Guinness and Aldi around the Rugby World Cup, along with Sky’s backing of the Irish women’s football team.

John Trainor, founder and chief executive of Onside, said there has been growing recognition of the effectiveness of engaging sponsorship activations in contributing to brand equity. Purpose-driven sponsorships were judged strongly as best practice in terms of their return. Outside of sport, Allianz and Vodafone’s links with Women’s Aid, and Electric Ireland’s support of Pieta were cited as standout sponsorships in Ireland.









Louise Cassidy, FAI; Declan McBennett, RTÉ Sport and Padraig Power, IRFU  

Guinness for music and An Post with its Irish Book Awards, as well as entertainment venue partners such as Three Ireland links with The 3Arena and The 3Olympia and the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, were also held up as beacons for businesses considering an involvement in sponsorship. Other top sponsors across sport and non-sport included Aer Lingus, AIB, AIG, Aviva, Bank of Ireland, Cadbury, Fáilte Ireland, Heineken and Lidl.

Shane McGonigle, chief executive of the Marketing Institute, said: “Sponsorship offers brands the unique opportunity to share values through common experiences, be it sports, entertainment, arts, culture or causes. Today we saw commercially successful examples from multiple industries and ‘events’, proving the value of marketing strategy executed through performance-driven sponsorship programmes.”


The new research uncovered Bundee Aki as the top most marketable Irish sports star for 2024, followed by recently retired Johnny Sexton, and Ireland’s women’s football team captain and Arsenal utility player Katie McCabe in third place. Ireland and Brighton & Hove Albion striker Evan Ferguson and Olympic 2024 hopeful Rhasidat Adeleke completed the top five.

Among the speakers at the conference were Rory Sheridan, head of partnerships at Diageo and Padraig Power, commercial director, Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU). Gerry Nixon, head of sponsorship and insights, Vodafone Ireland, said: “Our sponsorship with Irish rugby gives us a platform to bring to life the transformational potential of the roll out of 5G through our use of the tech to enhance the experiences of fans and the players.”

Top photo: Pictured at the sponsorship conference in the Aviva Stadium were Rory Sheridan, Diageo, former Ireland and Leinster captain Brian O’Driscoll and John Trainor, CEO and founder, Onside


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