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For the first time ever in Ireland, the men’s Premier & First Divisions and the Women’s National League are to share a title sponsor. Our client, SSE Airtricity, have taken the opportunity to sponsor both National Leagues in Ireland and have committed themselves to supporting both codes when it comes to football in this country.
This landmark sponsorship moment was previously announced back in January of this year and most recently activated for the 2021 league launch, which took place on Wednesday the 10th of March. It’s a sponsorship deal that has sought much praise from those within the sporting industry in Ireland and one that aims to close the gap between male and female football, if not sport in general, in Ireland. As a sponsorship agency to SSE Airtricity, we at Ripple Marketing were delighted to activate and highlight this new sponsorship of the Women’s National League as part of the annual league launch. It was our eleventh league launch of the Men’s Divisions and one that was certainly different to all others.
Due to the current restrictions in place, this year’s League Launch had to be different to comply with the regulations. Therefore, we worked closely with the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) to plan, create and film a virtual Live Show with current players, managers and former players in a socially distanced manner. We created a studio within the FAI kit room where two pundits, Conan Byrne & Stephanie Roche, joined a host, Marie Crowe, to discuss the season ahead for all three leagues.
We also sent a crew to three clubs, (Longford Town, Shelbourne & DLR Waves) one from each league, to catch up with current players and managers and preview the season ahead. These interviews would form part of the virtual live show being broadcasted from the FAI.
To activate SSE Airtricity’s sponsorship of the three leagues, we ensured branding was clearly distinguished and visible in the studio and at each of the three clubs we visited. We designed and produced purpose-made backdrops, ribbons for each trophy, league specific logos for studio branding, mini table Toblerone branding, football stickers and clipboard branding. The Ripple branding team designed and produced all branding for the entire virtual live show.
Another major part of the league launch was the photoshoot with Sportsfile. Each year, at the league launch for the Men’s Divisions, we organised a photoshoot with players to be utilised as the ‘launch photo’ and what would be released to all media the same day for use in publications. However, as outlined before, this was not like our annual league launch due to current restrictions in place due to Covid-19. Therefore, we worked closely with Sportsfile to create and shoot many different photos this year to give the media some choice when publishing their stories. The requirement each year for this photoshoot is to capture a photo encompassing all teams and also a photo that is league specific, i.e. only the teams featuring in that league will be in the shot. We used some obedient models for these league specific shots
The main launch image was made a bit more awkward this year with the need to include three leagues, the men’s Premier & First Divisions and the Women’s National League. We utilised FAI HQ to capture this main image that would be released to all media on the morning of the launch. We wanted the image to reconfirm SSE Airtricity’s sponsorship approach of supporting both the male and female game in Ireland. We believe the group shots encompass this.
On launch day, SSE Airtricity’s Game of Two Halves video was released showcasing their support for both male and female football leagues. The video aims to place the male and female players and leagues on the same playing field with the commitment of the players always an absolute parity. SSE Airtricity is determined to raise the awareness of the Women’s National League and women’s sport in Ireland.
Another main part of the launch each year is always the media press conference with the FAI league director. On the 10th of March, this was another highlight but for the first time ever it was done remotely through a virtual press conference with all media. Even with this virtual press conference, we still ensured we included SSE Airtricity branded backdrops behind Mark Scanlon, the SSE Airtricity League Director. We also ensured these backdrops were visible when RTE interviewed Mark earlier in the day for a piece to feature on the main 6 o’clock news. This ensured SSE Airtricity brand awareness and brand association for those casual watchers.
Looking ahead, the seasons are on the horizon and the on-pitch action will take centre stage once again. The 2021 Premier Division campaign will kick-off on Friday, March 19th before the First Division season begins on Friday, March 26th and the SSE Airtricity Women’s National League starts a day later on Saturday, March 27th. For the matches being aired on live television, the Ripple sponsorship team will be on hand to further activate SSE Airtricity’s sponsorship through additional branding opportunities and the presentation of a player of the match award. The Premier Division matches will be showcased on RTE and the hope down the line is to air some Women’s National league matches throughout the year also. WatchLOI and LOITV are two streaming platforms used for the Premier Division and the First Division and Women’s National League. We work alongside the FAI to design video and static stings for use pre-match and at half-time of the matches that feature on these platforms.
At Ripple, we are now looking forward to the season commencing and activating the sponsorships of all three leagues when and where possible. A major part of this is the digital marketing promotion through the FAI’s social media channels. We manage this relationship on behalf of SSE Airtricity and always aim to maximise brand exposure working alongside the FAI. The aim would be to increase brand association for SSE Airtricity and the Women’s National League especially. We are all keen to promote the women’s game here in Ireland and look forward to activating this sponsorship over the next two years.
The Live Show proved to be a success for this year’s league launch gathering some great reaction and traction online. Let’s hope we will be in a different position next year to host a physical league launch event and get back to some sort of normality. For the moment, the virtual world will have to do.
If you have any queries or are interested in hosting a virtual event or live show then please get in touch with Harry on [email protected] or if you would like to keep up to date on the seasons ahead then why not follow these hashtags online: