The Irish sponsorship industry grew by 6 per cent in 2021, recording a total of €180 million for the year despite economic difficulties due to the pandemic.
According to the Onside Irish Sponsorship Industry Survey, it was a breakthrough year for women’s sport in Ireland with 9 out of 10 sponsors viewing women's sport as a significant opportunity.
Some 63 per cent of industry professionals who were surveyed chose a woman as their most marketable personality for 2022.
Sport stars such as Kellie Harrington, Katie Taylor, Ellen Keane, and Rachael Blackmore among those most favourable.
Irish soccer international Katie McCabe and men’s goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu also made the industry’s 2022 top prospects list for the first time.
Furthermore, it is expected that the industry will grow by 8 per cent in 2022, a step closer to pre-pandemic levels.
According to John Trainor, Founder and CEO of Onside: “The pandemic affected all marketing activity, but after the initial shock in 2020, sponsorship has once again proved its worth to brands seeking to build new and better connections.
“The immediate decline was less steep than advertising and other parts of the marketing mix and its recovery has been steady and sustainable – much as we saw during the financial crisis earlier this century.
“The most interesting part of this recovery story to date is a noticeable shift in the business case for investment in sponsorship.
“Sponsor objectives are shifting to revolve around brand image (42 per cent) and showcasing community and social responsibility (39 per cent), overtaking brand awareness goals (34 per cent) for the first time in 2022.
“This year, we have seen a significant increase in brands using sponsorship to connect to the diversity and inclusion aspects of their businesses and environmental sustainability platforms have surfaced in our research as the strongest growth opportunity in sponsorship in the minds of 42 per cent of budget holders.”