Career Corner with Gavin McAllister of Three Ireland

Gavin McAllister, the Sponsorship Manager for Three Ireland, talks about a career in sponsorship in our latest Career Corner Feature.

1. How did your career get off the ground? Were you always focussed on working in sponsorship or did it happen over time?

Having studied marketing in DIT (including a thesis on sponsorship), I spent a year working before returning to college to complete a research masters in sponsorship. I felt that by completing further studies in sponsorship, that it would open possibilities.

So I guess my focus was always on sports marketing and sponsorship, and I sought to find a way into the industry as quickly as possible.

2. Has there been a key event or campaign in your career that has been particularly important to you?

There are probably three big events/campaigns that I was involved in that have been important:

  • WRC bid in 2007 – I was the marketing manager in the bid team that brought the WRC to Ireland for the very first time back in 2007. Seeing the bidding process in motion and being a key part of the team was a huge experience.
  • The 3 Irish Open 2010 – Having taken over the sponsorship of the Irish Open in 2009, for the second year of the sponsorship we wanted to completely reinvigorate the event.  We wanted to create one of the best ever Irish Open’s ever.  In conjunction with the organisers, we moved the event to Killarney and developed a weekend of events that was attractive to all the family. We sought to create more than your normal tented village, and create a real family event. We brought in better food offerings – seafood & champagne bar, a café, premium catering, and different activities for kids, as well as a sports bar (it was the August bank holiday weekend, and a lot of GAA was on that weekend). We wanted to create an area where people were happy to spend some time when not watching the golf. We achieved that, with more people attending the Three Irish Open in 2010 than in the previous 10 years. It took another number of years before the number was surpassed.
  • Our final 6 Nations campaign in 2016 – Being able to make such an impact with our Focus Ireland campaign was a very humbling campaign to deliver.  The preparation and planning of the activities were incredible to be part of, but the reaction and support the campaign received showed that we stuck a chord with the public overall.

3. What people, brands, rights holders or campaigns have you looked to for inspiration and/or guidance in your career?

I haven’t looked out for anything in particular. It was always been a case of seeking out the best activations put in place, and then try to learn more about how these things were achieved.

4. What advice would you give young professionals who want to build a career in the sponsorship industry?

My advice would be to have patience and seek to understand what you’re learning from every project and each year you spend working in sponsorship. There are a lot more ways now to get into sponsorship these days, from a rights holder, brand and agency perspective, as so many are seeking to use sponsorship as their key marketing activity.  I would also say, try to get as much varied experience as possible (experiential, PR, sponsorship, brand, events etc). You will then find what most excites you, motivates you and what you can best excel at.

5. What kind of people do you want to meet/hear from at ISS 2017 and what are you looking forward to about the event?

I’m always interested to hear from international speakers and their experiences of implementing sponsorships – their consumer insights, how they were translated, and ultimately the results. Ireland is a small sponsorship market in the greater scheme of things, so it’s great to hear from larger markets and what has worked.  That said, over the years some top notch activations have been put in place in Ireland, so it is equally good to hear how other brands in Ireland have managed their ideas through to fruition.