Croke Park Scores and Wins

15th November 2013

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Peter McKenna, GAA Commercial and Stadium Director of Croke Park, has been named Marketer of The Year 2013 by fellow marketing professionals at a ceremony held in Dublin. The judges were impressed by his skilful marketing of two distinctive but interwoven brands – the GAA and Croke Park Stadium.

Combining cultural and fan sensitivity with an acute sense of commercial awareness and using traditional and new media, he plotted a path to a future which has resulted in increased numbers attending GAA games, more audience and sponsorship participation while a thriving Croke Park Stadium is now a major visitor attraction and centre of sporting, business and social events. He was presented with the award by Michael Cullen, editor, Marketing.ie, in association with Alternatives, Ireland’s No.1 marketing talent house.

In early 2012 Peter McKenna and his team devised a multi layered marketing strategy focusing on key campaigns and promotional activity. This strategy was designed to drive ticket sales, continue to strengthen the GAA and Croke Park brands, maximise participation at all levels and drive corporate business for the Croke Park Conference Centre and increase numbers attending Croke Park visitor attractions including the GAA Museum and stadium tours.

In addition to being a showcase of sporting excellence, Croke Park has a thriving Conference Centre and Visitor Attraction business. The aim is to grow business and attract new clients by being an ‘unmatched’ B2B and tourist destination with the GAA Museum and the Etihad Skyline project both being major draws. 

Liaising with creative agency Target McConnells, the brand prism “Croke Park makes it Epic” was developed, leading from the idea that Croke Park experiences are magnetic, magical and meaningful. What happens at Croke Park is not just about performance; it’s about creating a feeling in the audience. Under the “epic” platform Croke Park Conference Centre has cemented its place as one of the top multipurpose event centres in both Ireland and Europe.

In addition, the GAA Museum & Stadium Tour visitor numbers have increased by over 65% since 2008. The Etihad Skyline Tour alone has attracted more than 23,000 visitors in just over a year. 

Commenting on the win Peter McKenna said: “I’m delighted to win this accolade.  It’s a tribute to the team that I work with on one of the most iconic brands in the country. From our perspective, the GAA must be marketed as playful and creative, but also purposeful and commercial. We’ve come a long way from our review in 2007 and new identity in 2008. The GAA is in good shape to face into the future – that said, there’s always new challenges and new opportunities and I’m looking forward to working with all my colleagues to keep the organization and Croke Park at the very heart of Irish sporting and commercial life.” 

Award sponsor, Sandra Lawler, managing director, Alternatives, said: “The notion of “Moving with the Times” is a core principle of marketing. Peter’s work is a perfect illustration of that in action, taking a revered sports institution like the GAA and reflecting its modern spirit of progressive, inclusiveness with fans and the public. This is our seventh year to sponsor Marketer of The Year™ and marketers like Peter McKenna embody the skills and talent that will make Irish business thrive again. ”

Michael Cullen of Marketing.ie said: “Marketer of The Year™ celebrates its 21st anniversary this year. The Award recognizes and honours standards of excellence in Irish marketing, and in particular for work done in the last two years. Re-framing a venerable, traditional brand and making it relevant, engaging and forward thinking is an effort that requires real skill and marketing talent. That’s especially the case with the GAA which remains such an integral part of our national life - we applaud Peter and his team for this superb work.”

In addition to Peter McKenna, the three additional contenders for the title were Tom Keogh, Keogh’s Crisps, John Concannon and Jim Miley, The Gathering and Emma Walls, Glenisk.

The award is run by Marketing.ie and is sponsored by Alternatives, Ireland’s No. 1 marketing talent house. Alternatives provides the best marketing and digital talent to organisations as and when they need it – on an interim, permanent, consultancy and outsource basis. (www.alternatives.ie)