Turning Leinster Rugby into an elite organisation

6 02 2013

Mick Dawson, CEO of Leinster Rugby, addressed the January 2013 Marketing Breakfast. Mick took the audience through the journey that Leinster Rugby has taken from the amateur to the professional to the elite era. To give some perspective, when rugby union turned professional Leinster Rugby had no structures, no fan base, played three matches a season and was seen as a stepping stone to the national side. Today it has:

  1. 145 employees
  2. A turnover of €17 million
  3. 13,000 season ticket holders
  4. State of the Art facilities in UCD
  5. Plays 28 – 33 matches a season

We live in a moment where change is so speeded up that we begin to see the present only when is it already disappearing” RD Laing

From a marketing perspective a key message that I picked up from Mick was the importance of managing people and relationships. Mick and his team have to manage relationships with professional sporting bodies, players, sponsors, supporters, volunteers and the amateur side of rugby in the province. I was very interested in the emphasis Mick put on this. For example, the supports club is a separate entity to Leinster Rugby but they meet regularly to keep in touch with what the supporters are saying.

Leinster Rugby has also invested in trying to understand their audience and their brand. They carried out a brand study to see how they were perceived by a cross-section of stakeholders including season ticket holders, clubs, schools, staff, players and sponsors. Based on the result of this study they made three key decisions:

  1. the brand was Leinster rather than Dublin and they need to expand outside the traditional south Dublin stronghold
  2. a new logo was need to drive the brand forward
  3. the profile of match attendees needed to change from men in their 50’s to families

This clear understanding of the brand has helped position Leinster Rugby as the “12 county army” and a remarkable sporting and commercial success story. Mick’s full talk is available on the Marketing Institute’s YouTube channel or you can view my interview with Mick below.

Some thoughts from Irish Sponsorship Summit 2012

23 02 2012

Here are five key observations on sponsorship from the Irish Sponsorship Summit 2012.

  1. Marketing teams should be structured along product or brand lines rather than along channel lines. This relates particularly to channels such as PR or social media which are often separate from brand or product marketing teams.
  2. A sponsorship must be credible if it is to be accepted by the public. This means knowing the space that you want to be in.
  3. A sponsorship should be part of a long-term strategy and should not be a short-term tactic. Do not get involved in a sponsorship just because you can (or because the CEO wants you to) but at the same time do not be afraid to end a long-term sponsorship if it no longer fits with your strategy.
  4. An open, honest and robust relationship between the sponsor and the rights owner is essential.
  5. Use all available channels but do not over complicate. Social media is a strong channel but it is not the be all and end all.
To finish, here is my favourite quote of the day with thanks to Jonnie Cahill of O2: “I’ve no interest in collecting ‘likes’ or tweets. I want to do stuff online.”

With the Liam McCarthy cup at the Irish Sponsorship Summit 2012