In our review of the 2016 sponsorship landscape we made the point that the overwhelming majority of Irish brands involved in sponsorship are active in sport – an arena that marketers widely acknowledge as being cluttered, and difficult to activate effectively.
Of the Arts, music enjoys the lions share of sponsorship investment bringing engaging activations to festivals across the country.
Irish cinema has never enjoyed such a rich period of success, and audiences are flocking to cinemas, so why then, are so few brands involved in sponsorship of film in Ireland?
Livewire certainly aren’t the first to congratulate the imperious Ruth Negga on her nomination for Best Actress at last week’s Oscar nominations – widely tipped for some time, it still came as an incredibly welcome surprise to see her name hit the screen in the all new Oscar nominations broadcast format.
It was another stellar day for the Irish at the Oscar nominations, with costume designer Consolata Boyle and Irish-made comedy The Lobster also among the nominees. These most recent nominations are the next step in the progression of the success Irish film has enjoyed internationally in the recent past.
Aside from a nomination in each of the Lead Actor and Best Director categories in 2016 for Michael Fassbender, Saoirse Ronan & Lenny Abrahamson, ‘Team Ireland’ bagged two statuettes with wins for Irish short filmmaker Benjamin Cleary for Best Short Film for Stutterer and actress Brie Larson who picked up the Academy Award for Actress in a Leading Role for her stunning performance in the Irish film ROOM, directed by Lenny Abrahamson, produced by Element Pictures and supported by Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board.
It’s widely-accepted that Irish people LOVE film – in fact we have the highest attendance per capita of any of our European neighbours with over 415 screens showing everything from the latest releases, cult classics, and live streaming of opera, never mind the ever-increasing number of outdoor screenings taking place in pop up locations across the county.
Total box office receipts for 2016 reached €107.5 million – an increase of 3% on 2015’s figure of €104.1 million and 8% up on 2014’s figure of €99.9 million. Final admissions figures have yet to be confirmed but are expected to record over 15 million entries through the turnstiles, that’s an average of 1.25 million trips to the cinema per month. The top 10 films included comedies, action adventure and family moves, which just proves how broad an audience film appeals to (source Wide Eye Media).
It would be difficult to discuss film in Ireland and not mention the behemoth that is Star Wars – seeing the Millennium Falcon ‘fly’ past the Skelligs was a life defining moment for this film fan!
Thankfully I wasn’t alone – Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland has credited Star Wars with the boost in visitor numbers in 2016. According to data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO), there was a 13% increase in the number of overseas visitors to Ireland in the first six months of the year.
With Episode 8, The Last Jedi, scheduled to hit screens in December 2017, large swathes of which were also filmed on location on the Wild Atlantic Way, all evidence points to this success continuing.
Some savvy brands have taken advantage of this opportunity. In August 2016 Boots set out to target young mums and, working with Wide Eye Media, sponsored a series of Parent & Baby screenings across 16 cinemas in Ireland.
These screenings are treasured by new mums who take advantage of the lower sound, bright lighting, and cheaper tickets to socialise with other mums and see a new release & enjoy a brief period of relative sanity – Boots clearly tapped into their target audience’s passion point and even more importantly added value, with luxury goody bags and advice from pharmacists before screenings. This audience is heavily marketed to, so targeting them in such a niche way is a perfect example of the strength of sponsorship of film.
Socially responsible event management group Happenings successfully expanded its popular outdoor movie screenings from Dublin only to Cork & Kilkenny, and in 2016 collaborated with 7UP for certain events. Aside from the obvious product sampling opportunity 7UP did its research and brought along comfy inflatable seats for the audience, adding huge value by alleviating an obvious issue for attendees!
Convenience retailer Gala has partnered with Disney to bring the glitz and glamour of film previews and premiers to regional Ireland. During the Summer of 2016 Gala held exclusive preview screenings of Disney’s Finding Dory in Cork, Limerick, Mullingar, Galway & Portlaoise. Gala shoppers can enter to win family passes to events in store, or on the Gala Facebook page. This partnership lives on Gala’s social platforms and really engages with the brand’s fans. Gala is cleverly using this sponsorship to demonstrate its commitment to local communities. The highest profile of these activations was the lighting of the Spire in Dublin as a lightsaber for the launch of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in late 2015, which garnered huge publicity for the brand.
It would be impossible to write on this subject & not mention Jameson & their legendary Cult Film Club events – an example of an immersive sponsorship at it finest. Tickets are allocated through a membership database, and events include live acting during the screenings, with added ‘real life’ special effects. Anyone who has been lucky enough to experience a screening with free food and of course, Jameson cocktails, becomes a life long advocate for the brand.
There are currently more than 20 significant festivals celebrating film scheduled to take place in Ireland in 2017 – including the Audi Dublin Film Festival this month. These festivals offer brands the opportunity to reach audiences, add value and align themselves with an Irish success story, this combined with cult film screenings tapping into the current trend for nostalgia, and the relentless success of the multiplex – we can only ask the question again – why are more brands not getting involved in an active way in the sponsorship of film & film festivals in Ireland?