‘Game Changers’ – Electric Ireland & Irish Football Association (Irish FA)

Electric Ireland’s community-focused ‘Game Changers’ women’s grassroots initiative with The Irish Football Association (IFA) in Northern Ireland was an always on, multi-channel three-year programme with linked advertising campaigns which targeted female home decision makers and increased brand awareness, affinity and acceptance and drove sales via supporting and growing women’s football across the province.


Territory: Northern Ireland (UK)


Agency: In-House, Reach PLC & BBDO Dublin





Electric Ireland, an established energy provider in the Republic of Ireland, entered the Northern Ireland residential market in 2015 and one of its key challenges was that its brand name was a barrier to trade in certain Unionist communities. To the extent that it had to introduce of DNC (Do Not Call) zones for street sales staff.


With utilities switching levels so often very low, as a challenger brand in the province Electric Ireland needed to integrate into the Northern Ireland community to increase brand awareness and acceptance and to open up these DNC zones.


To integrate the new Electric Ireland brand into Northern Ireland the company’s strategy was to deliver tangible benefits to the community it aimed to influence and develop a campaign that would have a genuine impact. So Electric Ireland teamed up with the Irish Football Association (IFA) with the objective of creating an initiative designed to increase awareness and participation levels within the female game which would have a lasting, positive impact across the community.


The team identified that women’s sport was growing around the world and yet the profile of and participation in women’s football in Northern Ireland was lagging behind similar markets.


So Electric Ireland’s objective was to develop a campaign, called Game Changers, with the IFA – the governing body for football in Northern Ireland which, as well as running the national teams, aims is to promote, foster and develop football for all sides of the community – which would grow the brand, enhance its acceptance across the community and speak to its target market of female decision makers in the home.


The campaign ran from October 2017 to October 2019 and initially the marketing objectives were built around price-led, customer acquisition needs. But as the initiative evolved and introduced additional assets (including the involvement of the Senior International Team) the focus of the communications was tweaked to help embed the brand into local communities.


The objectives were two-fold: a set of aims for growing women’s football and a set of aims for Electric Ireland.


Key Women’s Football Objectives:

    > Grow women’s football and create opportunities for 1000 girls to start playing

    > Support local women’s leagues and grow awareness of their games by 5%

    > Create a new elite league for U19 players

    > Boost international women’s team support and grow match attendance 25%

    > Build women’s football’s profile and raise awareness/positive sentiment


Key Electric Ireland Business Objectives

    > Grow brand awareness from 50% to 60%

    > Increase IFA women’s football sponsorship awareness to 20%

    > Increase residential sales by 7%

    > Eliminate DNC zones





The IFA/Electric Ireland ‘Game Changers’ initiative ran from October 2017 to October 2019 with a phased omnichannel campaign led by experiential and participation events, PR, influencer, OOH and print advertising, media partnerships, plus digital and social activation.


After the first two years, the sponsor and property renegotiated the tie-up to include a suite of additional assets – including a broader rights package linked to becoming the title sponsor of the senior women’s international team – which led to an integrated football marketing campaign launched in August 2019.


This was led by an advertising campaign spearheaded by OOH inspirational executions across Northern Ireland featuring female players and introducing the tagline “The game is changing. Every step of the way. We’re proud to power women’s football here in Northern Ireland”.


The creative then rolled out to stadium screens, match programmes, media partnership content, programmatic and owned social work all using the #GameChangersNI hashtag.


A parallel social and digital content led push blended earned and paid media to raise awareness and drive conversations around women’s football.


Selected media partnerships set out to ‘hero’ local women’s football and the in-house marketing team worked with Reach PLC on a range of bespoke content which included single and double-page spreads in print publications, while a women’s football branded content hub and strong social content were launched.


A series of branded activation – including social video, on air content and competitions – were created for Cool FM (the official radio partner of the IFA) which gave female players across Northern Ireland a voice.


A PR activation strand revolved around telling Game Changing stories and included a team of ambassadors who resonated with the target audience (ranging from Manchester United Women’s Manager Casey Stoney to Northern Ireland internationals and grassroots players.


Through PR, Electric Ireland also lobbied the sports media to increase coverage of the women’s game, while the team also ran a series of media training events for the clubs playing in local leagues with the primarily aim of helping them tell their own stories.


A flagship event occurred in February 2019 when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited the IFA and promoted the ‘Electric Ireland Shooting Stars’ youth grassroots programme and the marketing team sought to maximise the visibility across multiple channels through PR and social amplification and by creating bespoke Game Changers tee-shirts for those participating in the Royal visit event.


Plus, match day activation included an online competition to be an on-pitch mascot at the Northern Ireland v Norway senior women’s international and mascots wore branded tee-shirt to ensure a brand presence at the match alongside branding throughout the fan-zone.







Game Changers surpassed all Electric Ireland targets and KPIs and delivered positive results both for the brand, its bottom line and for female football across the province.


Women’s Football Results


The initiative created more opportunities for women to play football, drove more people to watch women’s football and more generated more conversations about women’s football across Northern Ireland.


Key success statistics included:

    > 84% rise in attendance at Northern Ireland Senior Women’s international games.

    > 5000 girls played football for the first time via ‘Electric Ireland Shooting Stars’.

    > 34% rise in local women’s league participation.

    > A new elite Under 19 league established (10 weeks of games for 120 players).


Electric Ireland Brand/Business Results


The flagship result for Electric Ireland was a 15.6% increase in sales.


Key Success Statistics Included:

    > 86 individual pieces of media coverage with 100% positive sentiment.

    > 695,063,759 total PR reach.

    > 1,200,000 reads-per-piece of media partnership content.

    > 13,000 engagements & 94000 visits generated by online hub.

    > 107,000 individual engagements & 413,000 video views of campaign content.

    > 71% brand awareness recorded during Game Changers campaign.

    > 55% sponsorship awareness recorded during Game Changers campaign.

    > 80% feel Game Changers showed a commitment to local communities.


The campaign’s success also saw Electric Ireland commit to a further three year IFA partnership which again will be spearheaded by another three-year Game Changers programme.



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