The Irish sponsorship industry grew by 9% to reach €196m in 2022 according to the sponsorship consultancy Onside.
In the 17th edition of the Onside Sponsorship Industry Survey, Onside says that the sponsorship market is likely to grow by 8% in 2023 to €212m, surpassing the €200m threshold first achieved in 2018,
According to Onside, 53% of sponsors intend to increase their sponsorship investment levels in 2023, broadly in line with 2022 expectations, and 7 in 10 expect sponsorship spending across the wider industry to increase, compared to only 1 in 5 back in 2021.
“Despite strong concerns amongst 3 in 10 sponsorship industry practitioners that feel that the cost-of-living crisis will have a significant negative impact on the sports industry in Ireland, we know brands that maintain their investment in sponsorship during tough times reap the rewards in the long-run,” says John Trainor, CEO and founder of Onside.
“While the instinct may be to cut back on sponsorship and activation, astute CMOs and marketers will dive into the right data, adapt their approach, and ensure their CEO and CFO colleagues are well-informed of the real return-on-investment they are delivering,” he adds.
“There will still be significant competition for available sponsorship assets in 2023, with demand for premium properties continuing to outstrip supply, although this has softened slightly compared to last year. 6 in 10 sponsors will be looking for new properties in 2023, a drop of 7% on last year and 47% are looking to drop out of existing partnerships, up 12% year on year,” Trainor explains.
Of particular interest to sponsors in 2023 will be opportunities across sustainability / environment, cause, community and diversity & inclusion. Banking and airline brands are tipped by the survey respondents as sectors to watch for growth this year.
With Rugby World Cup 2023 in France later this year, rugby is the top sport offering opportunities for sponsors this year while soccer made a notable return to the Top 10 areas of opportunity. According to Onside “7 in 10 sponsors say their businesses see the Rugby World Cup in France as an opportunity to engage with consumers, while 43% see opportunity for their businesses around the Republic of Ireland team’s presence at the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 in Australia and New Zealand.”
Elsewhere female stars in sports and entertainment continue to dominate the list of most marketable personalities for 2023, with the top 4 being females. 68% of industry professionals mentioned a female star, with Katie Taylor sharing the top spot with Ireland team captain Katie McCabe, as the soccer star jumped up the rankings from 13th place last year. The success of the Women’s National Football Team qualifying for the FIFA Women’s World Cup also saw coach Vera Pauw and players Amber Barrett and Niamh Fahey all making the most marketable list.
When it came to assessing the effectiveness of different sponsorship campaigns, the Onside survey noted that 1 in 3 of those surveyed think sponsorship campaigns were more effective in 2022 than 2021, a 5% increase on the previous survey. “Sky Ireland’s partnership with the FAI’s Women’s Team was most worthy of recognition, as Lidl and AIG’s ties with Gaelic games stood alongside Vodafone and Bank of Ireland’s rugby partnerships as perceived best-in-class of ‘22. KPMG’s new partnership with the Women’s Irish Open golf was also a notable new entry to this year’s list,” according to the survey.
“Not surprisingly, sport also dominates the survey list of the most effective rights holder partners in the eyes of sponsors, with the IRFU leading the line alongside the GAA, the FAI, and Aviva Stadium. They are joined on that list this year by Live Nation, who managed the full re-opening of a wide portfolio of venue and outdoor festival partnership properties in 2022,” Onside says.
With broadcasting platforms becoming a big consideration for sponsors, particularly in areas like streaming and podcasting, video sharing platforms are expected to be the big gainers among activation channels in 2023, Onside says with 76% of sponsors expecting to use more of these platforms to leverage sponsorship programs in the coming year, an increase of 22% from last year.