Home IMJ Features Championing Women’s Sport

Championing Women’s Sport


It’s been an interesting year for the Irish sporting world. Although tinged with both disappointment and success, it was a very good year for women’s sports, writes Lisa Bergin.

With the Irish Sponsorship Awards just past, it seems an opportune time to take a look at some of the sponsorship trends that have come to the fore so far this year.  From brand generated content such as AIB’s “Chris and Kammy’s Journey to Croker”, to cause related sponsorship in the form of AIG’s Heroes programme, brands have been looking at new ways to activate in the Irish sponsorship market.

However, the most notable trend of all is the massive breakthrough made around women’s sport. 2017 is shaping up to be the year that the proverbial glass ceiling was well and truly smashed.

The beauty of working in sports sponsorship is that moments of magic on a pitch, boxing ring or running track can directly impact our work on a day to day basis.

September was a momentous month for women’s sport in Ireland. Not only did Croke Park see the largest ever attendance at an All-Ireland Ladies’ Final, with 46,286 witnessing Dublin lift the Brendan Martin Cup, it was the largest at any women’s sports event in Europe this year. TV viewership also broke records with 563,000 viewers watching the live broadcast of the Senior Final between Dublin and Mayo on TG4, the highest-ever viewing figure for a Ladies’ final.

The beauty of working in sports sponsorship is that moments of magic on a pitch, boxing ring or running track can directly impact our work on a day to day basis.

Massive results like these breed success both on and off the pitch, not only for Ladies Football, but for women’s sport in general. Momentum behind the ladies’ final has seen brands turn their eye to the benefits of supporting women’s sport, and as Ireland’s leading sponsorship agency, we have noticed this trend coming to the fore over the last number of years.

AIG were leaders of the pack when they took on both Dublin Ladies Football and Camogie teams for the first time ever alongside their male counterparts thanks to their innovative deal with Dublin County Board in 2013. Life Style Sports following suit in a similar manner with the Dubs in 2016.

We lead negotiations and brokered the groundbreaking deal between Lidl and the LGFA back in 2014, which saw the retail giant go on to pick up European Sponsorship of the Year in 2016.

It’s safe to say that September 24th was a moment of magic for the LGFA, and the sponsorship highlight for all brands involved, as the growth and popularity of the game was proven before people’s eyes.

Similarly, Ireland’s hosting of the Women’s Rugby World Cup to sold out crowds in both Belfield and Belfast shows the strong momentum behind women’s sports nationwide. The tournament saw TV viewership soar to more than three million people watching Ireland’s clash against France on French television alone, breaking the record viewing figures for a women’s international, giving global sponsors Aon, Aldi, Land Rover, Heineken, EY and Mastercard their day in the sun in the process.

Female sports stars have also proven to be hugely popular amongst the Irish public.  Cork were voted RTE Sports Team of the Year in 2014 after winning their ninth All Ireland title in ten years. Katie Taylor was also named Ireland’s second most admired sports star in Teneo Sports’ 2016 Sports and Sponsorship Sentiment Index, the same position as 2015, after topping the poll in 2014. This year, Cork Camogie’s Rena Buckley became the most accomplished player in GAA history after earning her 18th All Ireland medal with the Rebel County. Expect to see this achievement recognized widely during this year’s awards season!

The next sponsorship trend to emerge from the dominance of women’s sport is to champion such players like Rena. Women’s teams have been celebrated by brands to date, but during the next 12 months we will start to see females appear as ambassadors for brands in individual endorsement deals alongside their male counterparts. This extra investment and creation of new female brand ambassadors is a positive development, and as sports fans, one we look forward to working on.

Lisa Bergin is Associate Director with Teneo Sports

First published in Irish Marketing Journal (IMJ November 2017)© to order back issues please call 016611660