Brands will be Onside with new agency

By Catherine O'Mahony

The Sunday Business Post - June 05, 2005

Sponsorship expert John Trainor is leaving Amárach Consulting to set up what he claims will be Ireland's first dedicated sponsorship agency.

Trainor's company, Onside Sponsorship, will provide Irish brands with comprehensive advice about entering the sponsorship arena, from initial analysis through to implementation and exit, if needed.

It's a service which many public relations firms are offering as an add-on to their existing offering, but which has not yet been a core proposition.

“It's a bit of a gap in the Irish market,” said Trainor, who has been with Amárach for seven years.

“I want to work with brands to help them develop strategy in this area, to define their objectives and find clever and creative ways to bring them to life. I want to bring a bit of sophistication to this.”

Irish brands have “a hell of a lot to learn'‘ about sponsorship, according to Trainor.

“Some of them make decisions relatively blindly, without the information they need to tell if these were the right decisions to make.”

Sponsorship is about ten to 15 per cent of marketing spend for companies which take it seriously, Trainor said.

He predicted, however, that this proportion would grow rapidly, as technology allowing consumers to avoid watching TV commercials begins to inhibit traditional advertising.

“It's already grown so rapidly and I think that it's going to sky rocket in three to four years,” said Trainor.

“I could see a point when 25 to 40 per cent of marketing budgets goes into sponsorship.

“When you look at what's going to happen to advertising, what the Ryder Cup and the World Cup will do for the market in 2006, you can see that there are a number of different forces in play.”

Trainor said he would bring his international connections to bear on his work. He has already signed up his first client in Australia and is negotiating with others closer to home.

Trainor expects to have offices open in July and hire three to four staff in the first year. He will continue to work with Amárach, whose services would come in at the analysis and research stage, he said.

This is Trainor's first entrepreneurial venture since he was 12 and had a lawnmowing service.

“I only got one client. Hopefully this will go a bit better.”