How AIB Brought Gaelic Football to Millions of New Fans on YouTube

As sponsor of the GAA Football Championship, AIB set itself the goal of becoming the most admired sponsor in sport in Ireland in the summer of 2017. The brand had to compete against dozens of Gaelic football sponsorships, as well as sponsorships around massive events like the Lions Tour and the Irish FIFA World Cup campaign. What’s more, they needed a way to raise Gaelic football’s status – an amateur sport played at a professional level – to a much wider audience.

About Allied Irish Banks (AIB)
One of Ireland’s major retail banks serving personal, business and corporate customers
Banking products and services including mortgages, savings and business banking
Headquarters in Dublin
www.aib.ie
About Starcom
Part of Core– Ireland's largest marketing communications group
Based in the heart of Dublin City, Ireland
www.starcom.ie
Goals
Elevate AIB above other sponsors in Ireland during cluttered summer of sport
Raise status of GAA to wider audience
Approach
Created episodic content to run solely on YouTube
Launched episodes with weekly YouTube homepage takeover
Kept main trailer alive with TrueView skippable ads
Used video sequencing technology to take viewers on journey through episodes
Results
Homepage takeovers reached over 2.2 million people
Campaign produced uplift of 40% in ad recall and 12% in favourability (best-in-class results compared to all advertisers and outperforming banks across EMEA)
Campaign hashtags delivered over 700,000 earned views
Series achieved almost 6 million views
Viewers consumed 8 million minutes of branded AIB content
Results independently verified by a Millward Brown study

AIB wanted to build a campaign that would make the brand stand out above other sports sponsors in Ireland and generate cut-through in a cluttered summer of sport, which meant they needed to resonate with sports fans instead of just hardcore GAA fans. With this in mind, the ambition was to create a highly entertaining, authentic series that showcased GAA from club to county level in a glowing light.

To reach a broad audience in the weeks leading up to the All-Ireland Final, AIB created episodic content that ran solely on YouTube with its series “Journey to Croker”. AIB had previously partnered with TV broadcasters to broadcast their content on TV, but found that fans didn’t directly attribute this TV content to AIB. The YouTube-only approach offered a way to gain share of voice for an eight-week period and leave no doubt in consumers’ minds that the content was produced by AIB.

AIB had previously proven that amateur GAA players could compete with professional sports people from other countries and this insight really resonated with fans. So this year to create appeal beyond the GAA audience, AIB invited two of the most recognisable faces in Premiership soccer to travel the length and breadth of the country in a bid to understand Ireland’s national game. Sky Sports pundits Jeff Stelling and Chris ‘Kammy’ Kamara were exposed to the communities, rivalries, pride, players, families and pundits that make GAA so unique in the world of sport. Their tour culminated with the pair commentating on the All-Ireland Final in Croke Park in front of an audience of over 82,000.  

In promoting the series, AIB took over the YouTube homepage every Tuesday for eight weeks. TrueView skippable ads kept the main trailer alive throughout, and video sequencing technology allowed them to take viewers on a journey through the episodes.

The YouTube homepage takeovers that launched each episode drove reach to over 2.2 million people who then joined AIB on the “Journey to Croker”. The campaign resonated widely: over 53% of the audience who chose to watch the content were from a broad 15- to 65-year-old audience, followed by general sports fans and hardcore GAA fans.

Compelling content drove immense increases in ad recall and favourability amongst these audiences throughout the campaign, netting an uplift of 40% in ad recall and 12% in favourability (best-in-class results compared to all advertisers and outperforming banks across EMEA).

“We have plans to build this approach into more of our content strategies and media plans going forward, allowing us to tap into a highly engaged energised community.”

– Mark Doyle, Group Brands Director, AIB

All campaign results were independently verified by a Millward Brown study.

Every episode appeared in the YouTube trending videos chart, surpassing non-brand content such as Justin Beiber’s new release and top vloggers’ content. The campaign delivered over 700,000 earned views, and there were over 150,000 searches for “Jeff and Kammy Journey to Croker” on YouTube. In total there were almost 6 million views of the series and 8 million minutes of branded AIB content consumed – equivalent to 15 years and 76 days. The campaign achieved the goal of elevating AIB above other sponsors in Ireland during a cluttered summer of sport, trending above all sporting content during the campaign, with viewerships surpassing the Lions Tour and all key sporting moments during the campaign.

“We set out to truly amaze fair-weather fans and elevate GAA to professional level this summer, and the results went above and beyond all expectations”, says Mark Doyle, Group Brands Director.

“We would highly recommend this approach for other brands. It gives the brand full ownership of their content, hosting it on their own branded channels. It allowed us to target consumers effectively and efficiently, and the video sequencing gave us access to powerful data to help us build more meaningful connections with our consumers.”

Going forward, he explains, “We have plans to build this approach into more of our content strategies and media plans, allowing us to tap into a highly engaged energised community. We’re looking ahead to our sport and non-sport campaigns for 2018 with YouTube episodic content at the heart of many of our content plans.”

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